"Beds Are Burning" is a 1987 hit single by Australian rock band Midnight Oil, the first track from their album Diesel and Dust. This song was the second from the album to be released as a single.
According to the Beds Are Burning Songfacts, Yuendemu in the line, "From Kintore East to Yuendemu," refers an aboriginal community in Central Australia, 250 Kilometers northwest of Alice Springs
It reached #1 in the South African charts, #3 in the Netherlands Top 40, #5 in the France Top 50, #6 in the United Kingdom charts, #11 in Ireland, #17 in the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and in Denmark.
It is one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.
It is named #95 on VH1's 100 Greatest One Hit Wonders of the 80s.
In May 2001, Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA) celebrated its 75th anniversary by naming the Best Australian Songs of all time, as decided by a 100 strong industry panel. "Beds Are Burning" was declared third behind the Easybeats' "Friday on My Mind" and Daddy Cool's "Eagle Rock".
"Beds Are Burning" is a political song about giving native Australian lands back to the Pintupi, who were among the very last people to come in from the desert. These 'last contact' people began moving from the Gibson Desert to settlements and missions in the 1930s. More were forcibly moved during the 1950s and 1960s to the Papunya settlement. In 1981 they left to return to their own country and established the Kintore community which is nestled in the picturesque Kintore Ranges, surrounded by Mulga and Spinifex country. It is now a thriving little community with a population of about 400.
Midnight Oil performed the song in front of a world audience of billions (including then Prime Minister John Howard) at the closing ceremony of the 2000 Sydney Olympics. The whole band were dressed in black, with the words "sorry" printed conspicuously on their clothes. This was a reference to the Prime Minister's refusal to apologize, on behalf of the government of Australia, to the Aboriginal Australians for the way they have been treated over the previous 200 years, particularly in relation to native title and the government-sanctioned removal of Aboriginal children of the Stolen Generations from their families.
In 2004, the German Eurodance group Novaspace covered this song. In 2006, Pearl Jam covered the song as a tag to their hit song "Daughter" during the Australian leg of their tour, in the same year the French metalcore band Black Bomb A released their version of it on their album "One Sound Bite to React". In 2008, The Nightwatchman covered the song with Justin Sane and Chris #2 of Anti-Flag at the Sydney & Perth Big Day Out festival, and additionally Billy Bragg at the Adelaide Big Day Out festival in Australia. Also, Johnette Napolitano of Concrete Blonde recently covered the song. Gyroscope played the song during the breakdown of their song, "Fast Girl", on their "The Australia Tour" in Aug-Oct 2008.
Former Concrete Blonde frontwoman Johnette Napolitano and Rachel Stamp guitarist Will Crewdson posted a version of the song on their mutual MySpace page in 2008. Their version is largely faithful to the original, the greatest differences being that in their version the chorus and bridge are less-densely orchestrated than the verses, and some small changes to the lyrics (for example, Napolitano replaces the line "To say fair's fair" with "to pay our share". She then repeats the line in its original place as well).
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