On 11 February 2019 I set myself the challenging of reading 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die by Robert Dimery (ed.) and following the book’s advice to the letter. I’ve previously read 1001 Films… and started 1001 Albums… but felt 1001 Songs… would be a sensible place to start for what I have in mind here.
My challenge is to read about one song per day and listen to it (YouTube and Spotify, I need you tonight!) before sharing my own thoughts. Some songs I will love, others I’ll hate, and I’m sure there will be those that leave me perplexed but listen to them I shall.
I’ll also try, and most likely fail, to pinpoint the best song from the 1001 on offer but I’m nothing if not foolhardy. Instead of one song, I’m predicting I’ll have about 100 favourites by the end and may have to resort to a Top 10 so far to maintain any semblance of sanity.
So long as I post everyday (including Christmas) then this challenge should come to an end on Wednesday 8 November 2021. Staying with the Barney Stinson theme I am hoping that the whole experience will prove to be…
Yothu Yindi – Treaty (1991)
Yothu Yindi ( Yolngu for “child and mother”, pronounced ) were an Australian musical group with Aboriginal and (non-Aboriginal) members, formed in 1986 as a merger of two bands formed in 1985 – a white rock group called the Swamp Jockeys and an unnamed Aboriginal folk group.
We’re leaving the US today and making our way down to Australia and deep into the Northern Territory where yours truly has been previously and took in Ayers Rock while he was there. Anyway, Yothu Yindi were an intriguing collaboration, made up of Aborigine people and non-Aboriginal members known as balanda. Delving in rock and indigenous music, we join Yothu Yindi in 1991 with the release of their biggest hit – Treaty.
Treaty was written in response to a 1988 visit to the Northern Territory by then Australian Prime Minister, Bob Hawke. Hawke received the Barunga Statement, a list of objectives from the indigenous people in the Northern Territory and the Prime Minister was adamant a treaty would be put in place by 1990. It did not happen. Treaty therefore addresses this betrayal. It recalls how the promise was made by the government to reach a form of peace between white and black Australians but in the end such a peaceful agreement was never attained. This is akin to Midnight Oil’s Bed Are Burning which also condemned the despicable treatment of the Aborgine people by descendants of European settlers.
While not hitting home as hard as Beds Are Burning, Treaty is more personal in that it responds to a supposedly historical moment and half of this band are Aborigine people themselves, directly affected by the Australian government’s failure at this time. While I can’t profess to know a huge amount about the Aborigine people, I knew enough to treat their land and their people with the utmost respect when I had the privilege of seeing the Northern Territory for myself more than a decade ago.
Favourite songs so far: