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“Beds Are Burning” is a song by Australian rock band Midnight Oil, released in August 1987 as the second single from their sixth studio album, “Diesel and Dust.” The song is one of Midnight Oil’s most iconic and influential tracks, known for its powerful political message, driving rhythm, and memorable chorus.

“Beds Are Burning” was written by band members Peter Garrett, Rob Hirst, and Jim Moginie. The song addresses the plight of Indigenous Australian communities, particularly the Pintupi people, who were among the last to come into contact with modern civilization. It advocates for the return of Indigenous lands that were taken during the colonial period. The inspiration for the song came from Midnight Oil’s participation in the 1986 Blackfella/Whitefella Tour, where they performed in remote Indigenous communities and witnessed firsthand the living conditions and issues faced by these communities.

The lyrics of “Beds Are Burning” focus on themes of land rights, social justice, and reconciliation. The opening lines, “Out where the river broke, the bloodwood and the desert oak,” set the scene in the Australian outback, while the chorus, “How can we dance when our earth is turning? How do we sleep while our beds are burning?” serves as a powerful call to action, urging listeners to recognize and address the historical injustices faced by Indigenous Australians.

“Beds Are Burning” achieved significant commercial success both in Australia and internationally. It reached number one on the Australian Kent Music Report and in several countries, including Canada, New Zealand, and South Africa. In the United States, it peaked at number 17 on the Billboard Hot 100, marking Midnight Oil’s most successful single in the American market.

The music video for “Beds Are Burning,” directed by Claudia Castle, features striking imagery of the Australian outback and scenes of the band performing. The video includes shots of Indigenous Australians and references to their connection to the land, reinforcing the song’s message of social justice and land rights. “Beds Are Burning” received widespread acclaim from critics, who praised its powerful lyrics, energetic music, and the band’s commitment to social causes. The song has been recognized as a significant cultural work, often cited as one of the greatest Australian songs of all time. Its impact extends beyond music, having played a role in raising awareness about Indigenous rights and social justice issues.

Midnight Oil – Beds Are Burning – Lyrics