Fire and Water Records: Midnight Oil

It's Midnight... the Oiling Hour! Okay, that makes no sense, but whatever, this episode of Fire and Water Records reunites the fan-favorite podcasting team of Ryan Daly and Paul Hix. Feckless politicians and greedy corporations beware! The fellas discuss the Australian rock band Midnight Oil, which Ryan had never heard until last year, and share some of their favorite songs on topics ranging from the plight of native Aboriginal people in Australia to the suffering of other native Aboriginal people in Australia. Also, f*** Rupert Murdoch!

Track list

  1. “Don't Wanna Be the One” from PLACE WITHOUT A POSTCARD
  2. “Beds Are Burning” from DIESEL AND DUST
  3. “Short Memory” from 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1
  4. “Forgotten Years” from BLUE SKY MINE
  5. “Stand In Line” from HEAD INJURIES
  6. “Read About It” from 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1
  7. “Truganini” from EARTH AND SUN AND MOON
  8. “River Runs Red” from BLUE SKY MINE
  9. “Blue Sky Mine” from BLUE SKY MINE
  10. “Gadigal Land” from THE MAKARRATA PROJECT
  11. “Who Can Stand In the Way” from RED SAILS IN THE SUNSET

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13 responses to “Fire and Water Records: Midnight Oil

  1. I’ve barely started the episode, but like Ryan, I’m not anticipating having reams of response to speak of. Like most people in the states, I was introduced to Midnight Oil around 1987 through the single “Beds Are Burning”. I was living in Nevada when I started listening to pop music, and I don’t recall hearing much rock until I got back to Texas the following year. I probably caught it on Friday Night Videos, as I became an absolute dusk to dawn night owl that summer. The lead singer reminded me of Michael Berryman from The Hills Have Eyes. I didn’t understand the context of the song, but the lyrics were heavy, and I enjoyed the revivalist presentation. Justifiably a huge hit. In my experience, its success brought back “The Dead Heart,” their best single and video, inexplicably missing from your song list. I just checked Billboard, and sure enough, “Beds” peaked at #17 in July ’88, and “Heart” at #53 that September.

    Earth Day/Environmentalism arguably peaked in the popular culture in 1990. I still have several specials released that year recorded off TV onto VHS, so if you ever want to hear Bobcat Goldthwait cover “YMCA” in the style of Bono or James Brolin accidentally recommend waiting until you have a full load before going to the toilet, I’m the guy to talk to. “Blue Sky Mine” managed a respectable rank of #47 in that environment, and I certainly recorded that one off MTV as well.

    Beyond the three singles, I have almost no exposure to the group, but I respect them a hell of a lot. Where most artists repeat the same relationship tropes incessantly for the duration of their careers, Midnight Oil spoke to issues that mattered with bangers. Maintaining the Aussie theme, has AC/DC ever released a single that wasn’t about balling? So when I saw they were getting a spotlight episode, I was like “hell yeah.” Peter Garrett’s public service is admirable, and the entire band make social consciousness cool.

    1. Frank, I’m sorry I didn’t pick The Dead Heart for you. The song became ubiquitous on radio and I actually became a bit weary of it’s exposure. Between Ryan’s picks of Beds are Burning and Gadigal Land I was comfortable that indigenous justice side of the band was covered on the show.

      I also prefer Beds are Burning as it’s written from the white perspective, where The Dead Heart was written by the band for indigenous singers who then urged the band to give it that Oils push to maximise the message’s reach.

      I genuinely have so many favourite songs there was already a whole lot of jostling around my list. I could seriously do a Pod Dylan style show about the band if I had more time.

      Hope you found some new songs to enjoy from this episode.

      1. I’m well familiar with avoiding the popular song everyone expects because you’re personally sick to death of it. No foul there on your part. I blame Ryan entirely for the omission. I don’t know what he was even thinking. What a fool he was.

  2. Ryan was but a wee infink when “Beds are Burning” was in constant rotation on MTV, so I will forgive him for not knowing of the band or that song. I honestly don’t know much beyond the song, so this was very interesting.

    “Beds are Burning” also made the perfect soundtrack for young me when I read Grant and Breyfogle’s “Aborigine” Detective # 591 a year later. Between the two I learned about injustices that would have never crossed my radar, otherwise.

    As for American bands with a similar constant political bent, Rage Against the Machine, maybe?


  3. Still listening, but almost done.

    Nope, still weird that Ryan never heard “Beds Are Burning.” He may have still been in the single digits when it came out, but it stayed in rotation for… actually, based on his own admission, it’s still in rotation. But it was definitely still playing into the grunge rock era, which it largely anticipated and/or laid the groundwork for. “Blue Sky Mine” is very 1990 hippy revival roots-pop, and “The Dead Heart” is more U2/world music-y, but “Beds Are Burning” fits nicely into alt-rock.

    I also don’t get how Ryan missed all the Run The Jewels homage covers from a few years ago, like the Deadpool one and the Rocket Raccoon/Howard the Duck one or the Punisher/Dr. Strange one or other Deadpool one or the Black Panther one or the Cage one, and that’s just Marvel. M’boy Jose Fixit was into them at least a year before I heard from anyone else, if you need any hekp with that episode.

    System of a Down is another band with big political hits, and A Perfect Circle did a whole album of anti-war/Bush covers in 2004. Given the unprecedented access of musical artists to audiences without label interference, it’s weird how apolitical modern acts tend to be. With a few exceptions, it seems like music ceded from the discourse after the ’90s. Even the Dixie Chicks were pilloried over what they said on stage, rather than what they sang.

    I’m going to set aside some time to listen to Midnight Oil more, but so far my curiosity is centered on “River Runs Red”.

    1. I thought you meant RTJ Marvel cover *songs* and was like, what the hell are you talking about? Had to Google it and saw all the comic book cover art. AAAAHHHHHH. Well, I still missed those completely, but they’re cool.

  4. People have prodded me about doing an episode of FWR about the seminal Canadian band the Rheostatics which I keep saying is my favorite band, and I couldn’t imagine Ryan being involved, but whether or not it materializes in that form, this has really proven me wrong.

  5. Still getting through it… So you’re saying Blue Sky Mine didn’t get air play in the U.S.? It was a hit here in Canada. Of course, we also have a tradition of “Evil Mine” songs.

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