"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.
"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.
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.
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 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.