Beds Are Burning

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"Beds Are Burning"
Single by Midnight Oil
from the album Diesel and Dust
Released 1987
Recorded 1987
Genre Alternative rock, new wave
Length 4:18
Label Columbia
Producer(s) Warne Livesey and Midnight Oil
Midnight Oil singles chronology
"The Dead Heart"
"Beds Are Burning"
"Put Down That Weapon"
Music sample

"Beds Are Burning" is a 1987 worldwide hit single[1] 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, and is among the band's best-known songs outside Australia.

It reached No. 1 in the New Zealand and South African charts, No. 2 in Canada, No. 3 in the Netherlands, No. 5 in France, No. 6 on the UK Singles Chart, No. 11 in Ireland, and No. 17 on the US Billboard Hot 100, in Sweden and in Denmark.

It is one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.

It was named number 95 on VH1's 100 Greatest One Hit Wonders of the 80s and number 97 by the Triple J Hottest 100 Of All Time in 2009.

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".[2]


"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 a community with a population of about 400. Kintore and the town of Yuendumu are mentioned by name in the lyrics, as are vehicles produced by Holden.[3]

Chart positions[edit]

Chart (1988-1989) Peak
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[4] 2
Canadian RPM 20 Dance Singles[5] 20
Canadian RPM Top Singles[6] 1
France (SNEP)[7] 5
Irish Singles Chart[8] 11
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[9] 3
Netherlands (Mega Single Top 100)[10] 3
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[11] 1
South African Chart[12] 1
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[13] 17
UK (Official Charts Company)[14] 6
US Billboard Hot 100[15] 17
US Billboard Hot Dance Club Play[15] 20
US Billboard Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales[15] 45
US Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks[15] 6


Midnight Oil performed the song in front of a world audience of millions at the closing ceremony of the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Then Prime Minister John Howard had triggered controversy that year with his refusal to embrace symbolic reconciliation and apologise to Indigenous Australians and members of the stolen generations. But he had also claimed that the reconciliation-themed "Beds Are Burning" was his favorite Midnight Oil song. The band played it dressed in black, with the word "Sorry" printed conspicuously all over their clothes, as a popular apology to indigenous people and to highlight the issue to Howard, who was in the audience as the ranking Olympic host.

Other appearances[edit]

Cover versions[edit]


  2. ^ "The final list: APRA'S Ten best Australian Songs". Australasian Performing Rights Association. 28 May 2001. Archived from the original on 8 March 2008. Retrieved 8 March 2008. 
  3. ^ "Beds Are Burning". Retrieved 22 November 2012. 
  4. ^ " – Midnight Oil – Beds Are Burning" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
  5. ^ "Beds are burning in Canadian 20 Dance Singles Chart". Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 21 June 2013. 
  6. ^ "Beds are burning in Canadian Top Singles Chart". Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 21 June 2013. 
  7. ^ " – Midnight Oil – Beds Are Burning" (in French). Les classement single.
  8. ^ "Beds are burning in Irish Chart". IRMA. Retrieved 21 June 2013.  Only one result when searching "Beds are burning"
  9. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Midnight Oil search results" (in Dutch) Dutch Top 40.
  10. ^ " – Midnight Oil – Beds Are Burning" (in Dutch). Mega Single Top 100.
  11. ^ " – Midnight Oil – Beds Are Burning". Top 40 Singles.
  12. ^ John Samson. "Beds are burning in South African Chart". Retrieved 21 June 2013. 
  13. ^ " – Midnight Oil – Beds Are Burning". Singles Top 60.
  14. ^ "1989 Top 40 Official UK Singles Archive - 13th May 1989". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 21 June 2013. 
  15. ^ a b c d "Midnight Oil awards on Allmusic". Allmusic. Retrieved 21 June 2013. 
  16. ^ MySpace[dead link]
  17. ^ The Global Campaign for Climate Action 2011[dead link]

External links[edit]