We Resist

Around the time when I was hanging out with the friend I mention in my post on R.E.M.’s song “Drive,” he introduced me to the music of the rock band Midnight Oil.

Formed in 1972 under the name Farm and after changing their name in 1976, Midnight Oil developed a strong following in their home country of Australia. The band has always been staunch in its political and social views and activism, particularly environmental issues and Indigenous rights, though they delve into war and other forms of oppression as well. Lead singer Peter Garrett (b. 1953), known for his shaved head and tall, energetic and lanky stage presence, took that passion to new and different heights when he quit the band to run for election for Australia’s Labor Party. He was elected as a member of the House of Representatives in the 2004 election. And when Labor formed the government in 2007, he served as a cabinet minister, first for Environment, Heritage and the Arts (having served previously in opposition as the shadow minister, or opposition critic, for that same portfolio), and later for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth. Garrett resigned from politics ahead of the 2013 election.

I was telling my sweety earlier this week about a rumour I’d heard back in the 1980s when Midnight Oil was becoming more widely known by what would now be referred to as alternative rock music fans. The story was that Garrett had almost become prime minister of Australia while being a band member. In truth, he had run for a seat in the Senate as a member of the country’s Nuclear Disarmament Party in the 1984 election but lost, albeit by a narrow margin.

During Garrett’s time in parliament, the other band members continued working together, just not as Midnight Oil. The whole band did get together again briefly, on two occasions: first in 2005 to play the WaveAid concert, benefitting victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, sharing the concert lineup with artists including Nick Cave, and Neil and Tim Finn (formerly of New Zealand’s Split Enz); and in 2009 for another charity concert, Sound Relief, this time aiding those affected by a bushfire disaster. (In it, Midnight Oil played alongside similar acts as the 2005 show, plus another Neil Finn project, Crowded House, and Neil Finn’s son, Liam.)

Midnight Oil reformed in 2016 and remains active today.

It wasn’t until 1982 and “the Oil’s” fourth album, 10, 9, 8,7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, that they started to receive attention in North America. Two singles from that album, “US Forces” and “Power and the Passion,” highlighted their strong criticism of US foreign policy of the 1980s. Their sixth album, Diesel and Dust (1986), which features the runaway hit “Beds Are Burning,” brought them worldwide attention.

Fast forward to 2022, when Midnight Oil’s socio-political beliefs remain as strong as ever. Cruising around their YouTube channel today, I played the videos for the above tracks and stumbled upon a song I hadn’t heard before, “We Resist,” which, it turns out, comes from an album the band released this year, their 13th studio release, RESIST.

The official music video is a compilation of videos taken over the years at protests held by the band. The various crises affecting the planet today, including war, the climate change emergency, and the ongoing oppression of Indigenous peoples, among many other critical issues, made it seem timely to discover and share this song today.

“Putting flowers into guns
This is not the summer of love
Throwing tea into the sea
Indigenous apology

Only if
We resist
It’s a storm without end
Where’s the lighthouse? where’s a friend
Come to think
It can’t last
Only if
We resist

Free market and labour rights
Women’s vote and hunger strikes
War is over in times square
Please don’t say that nobody cares
Standing up to those who sell fear
With a polite insistence to hear

Only if
We resist
It’s a storm without end
Where’s the lighthouse? where’s a friend
Come to think
It can’t last
Only if
We resist”

“We Resist,” by Jim Moginie.
Official lyrics retrieved from the YouTube post for the video.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here.

Here’s the music video from Midnight Oil’s YouTube channel:

With my best wishes to you,


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