Tuesday, 27 April 2010

midnight oil

Fellow Australians,

I noticed a Light Reading post headlined 'Midnight oil' and was instantly transported to the driver's seat of the blue 1973 Ford Falcon (number plate IRA 500) which my friend Dave and I drove from Melbourne to Melbourne via the East Coast, Alice Springs and Adelaide in the spring and summer of 1992. This is a Ford Falcon of that era. It looks better than ours, though ours was great. The German guys who bought it off us got a good deal, though I definitely feel guilty about not mentioning the spare tyre had been blown out and about the legerdemain with which we hid the fact that the passenger-side door couldn't be opened from inside.

(We had the 5.7 litre V8. The size of Australian engines at the time was hilarious.)

Anyway, I was transported back because Midnight Oil are one of the great Aussie rock bands and we had a couple of Oils tapes. (We also listened to Cold Chisel, of course.*)

The main thing about Midnight Oil, anecdotally, is that Peter Garrett, their bald lead singer, is now the Australian minister for Environmental Protection, Heritage and the Arts. In case you don't recognise the oddly familiar t-shirt he's wearing, that's the Aboriginal flag. At Sydney 2000's closing ceremony, after PM John Howard had publicly and repeatedly refused to apologise for the treatment of Australia's aborigines, Midnight Oil performed in front of Howard in black tracksuits with SORRY written on them in white.

The song of theirs you are most likely to know is Beds Are Burning. My favourite is Blue Sky Mine or Forgotten Years.

* We endured, on the radio, the final stages of Alice Springs' radio's Battle of the Bands - all bands of all time. The audience voted, and whoever came up against Cold Chisel was minced. This took out the Beatles and Rolling Stones, among others. The final was Cold Chisel against Status Quo. I suppose Status Quo probably must have got a vote. I am not 100% sure of my favourite Cold Chisel song, but I definitely like Khe San, which is the most famous one.


Caroline Hardman said...

Suddenly I'm 19 again! I've just been back to Australia for a visit, after nine years in London, and no matter how many times I heard it on the news (which was a lot, becuase he was embroiled in a hotbed of scandal over roof insulation, of all things, at the time) my brain refused to compute the phrase "Environmental minister Peter Garrett". Still does.

Another great Aussie rock act of that era were Boom Crash Opera - Onion Skin and Dancing In the Storm both particularly good.

Sarah said...

Khe San is a song that will haunt Australia for the rest of it's days. I do still enjoy Midnight Oil quite a lot.