Beds Are Burning
|"Beds Are Burning"|
Australian seven-inch vinyl single
|Single by Midnight Oil|
|from the album Diesel and Dust|
"Bullroarer" (US only)
|Midnight Oil singles chronology|
"Beds Are Burning" is a 1987 song by the 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 New Zealand, South Africa and Canada, No. 3 in the Netherlands, No. 5 in France, No. 6 in the United Kingdom and Australia, No. 11 in Ireland and No. 17 in the United States and Sweden.
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".
"Beds Are Burning" is a protest song in support of 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 the Holden company.
Certifications and sales
Midnight Oil performed the song in front of a world audience of millions at the closing ceremony of the 2000 Sydney Olympics. 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.
- Live at the World Café: Handcrafted (2002, World Café)
- In 1992, the German heavy metal group Sinner covered the song on the album No More Alibis.
- In 2001, Augie March covered "Beds Are Burning" on the tribute album The Power & The Passion.
- In 2004, the German Eurodance group Novaspace covered the song.
- In 2006, Pearl Jam covered the song as a tag to their hit song "Daughter" during the Australian leg of their tour.
- In 2008, The Nightwatchman performed the song with Justin Sane and Chris Barker of Anti-Flag at the Sydney and Perth Big Day Out festival, and additionally Billy Bragg at the Adelaide Big Day Out festival in Australia. Gyroscope played the song during the breakdown of their song, "Fast Girl", on their "The Australia Tour" in August–October 2008. The 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).
- In 2009, The Red Paintings covered the song, rewriting it as "Whales are Dying" as a charity single for the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society as a letter to Peter Garrett, who was then Minister for Environment Protection, Heritage and the Arts.
- On 2 October 2009, 60 musicians and celebrities from around the world released a free reworked version to highlight climate change issues before the United Nations' talks in Copenhagen. Singers included Lily Allen, Klaus Meine of the Scorpions, Simon Le Bon from Duran Duran, Tyson Ritter of The All-American Rejects and Bob Geldof. The former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the French actress Marion Cotillard also added their voices to the cover version. The song is part of Global Humanitarian Forum TckTckTck Time for Climate justice campaign and is a part of the greater "TckTckTck" project, which aims to draw attention to the urgency of the global warming crisis, by signing a "musical petition" with each download.
- In 2014, the English extreme metal band Devilment, featuring the Cradle of Filth vocalist Dani Filth, covered the song on their first album The Great and Secret Show. The cover features Bam Margera partially providing the vocals.
- The final list: APRA'S Ten best Australian Songs at the Wayback Machine (archived 8 March 2008). Australasian Performing Rights Association. 28 May 2001.
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- "Archive Chart: 1989-05-13" UK Singles Chart. Retrieved 21 June 2013.
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- CASH BOX Top 100 Singles – Week ending JUNE 25, 1988 at the Wayback Machine (archived 7 October 2012). Cash Box magazine.
- "Listy bestsellerów, wyróżnienia :: Związek Producentów Audio-Video". Polish Airplay Top 100. Retrieved 27 June 2016.
- "Forum – ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts – Top 100 End of Year AMR Charts – 1980s". Australian-charts.com. Retrieved 3 May 2014.
- "Jaaroverzichten 1988". Ultratop (in Dutch). Retrieved 3 May 2014.
- "TOP – 1988". Top-france.fr (in French). Retrieved 3 May 2014.
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- "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 2014 Singles". Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved 6 May 2014.
- "Canadian single certifications – Midnight Oil – Beds Are Burning". Music Canada.
- "Les Singles / Titres Certifiés "Argent"". InfoDisc (in French). Retrieved 12 May 2016.
- (French) Les Singles en Argent at the Wayback Machine (archived 12 January 2016). InfoDisc.
- MySpace[dead link]
- Mogus, Jason (1 October 2009). 'Beds are Burning' brings celebrities together in support of TckTckTck and climate justice at the Wayback Machine (archived 4 October 2009). Tcktcktck.org.