Winnipeg, Manitoba punk band, Comeback Kid have released a new 7-inch vinyl and this time the meaning behind the music hits close to home. On their new record, the band released a new song and a cover song by Midnight Oil, titled “Beds are burning.” The band was so excited to release this album that they just couldn’t wait for recently signed Nuclear Blast to put it out. Rather than wait signed big label, lead singer Andrew Neufeld , took it upon himself to go to a get a pressing plant do it as soon as possible.
The song is a political protest song about giving native Australian lands back to the aboriginal Australians. Since the early 1940’s, these aboriginal people have been chased away from their homelands. By the 1950’s everybody had been removed. The reason, their desert homeland was a prime spot for military missile testing. Their land was not purchased from them, it was stolen so that the military could practice mass execution if need be. The newly settled aboriginals were forced to relocate to places that had such bad conditions that one-sixth died of the population died of treatable diseases. The suffering did not end there. The forcible government didn’t just remove people from their land; it also removed thousands of Aboriginal children from their parents. They became known as “The Stolen Generation”.
An important element detailed in the “Beds Are Burning” lyrics is the rhetorical question of “How can we dance when the world is turning and How can we sleep when the beds are burning?.” The chaos and reality of this is a hard subject matter but one word paying attention to. It’s lyrical content like this which makes top forty hits take a back a back seat and seem watered down and irrelevant and promotes a culture of dancing, partying and making music without a message. More often than not, a negative and adult message is portrayed and yet people by the millions are lining up to get their latest so-called “hits.”
Although not the original plan, Comeback Kid has now embraced the hard-hitting lyrical content of the song and are hoping they can make a difference. The content is so closely tied to how the indigenous people of Canada have been treated as well. It resonated with the band and was a big reason why they are so proud to cover this song. Guitarist Jeremy Hiebert says they are hoping to bring a little awareness and to at least educate people about what has happened and is still happening. He went on to say “even just knowing and being able to have conversations with our friends and teach our children is a very important thing.” This is a small step in a very big matter that can be felt all around the world. Hiebert says this can be also be related to the resurgence of racism we are seeing all over. “I thought we were getting over that. Maybe it’s one of those things where you have to take one step back before you can take two steps forward.” Comeback Kid is just happy that they can be part of such a meaningful project, regardless of how minimal the contribution is. One can only hope that the long-term progression is going in the right direction.
The band who made the song popular in the first place, Midnight Oil performed it in front of a world-wide audience. Most notably, former Prime Minister John Howard who has claimed this is his favorite
Midnight Oil song. They performed Beds are burning at the closing ceremony of the 2000 Sydney Olympics. The whole band was dressed in black, with the words “sorry” printed on their clothes. This was a reference to the Prime Minister’s refusal to apologize, on behalf of Australia, to the Aboriginal Australians for the way they have been treated. This was a controversial move as Midnight Oil had to be warned not to make any political speeches, prior to performing it in Sydney.
In 1981 the aboriginal Australians left their segregated homes to return to their own country and established the Kintore Community. It is now a thriving community with a population of about 400.
The kids have come back but the scars of their beds burning are still felt.