Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Five Songs About This Godforsaken Hellhole of a So-Called Country

This fucking country. Over two centuries of capitalism and white supremacy, built on genocide, dispossession and huge lashings of cruelty to the lower ranks of society, white or not...and today it is a hellish mix of oppression and ecological catastrophe that has entirely undone tens of thousands of years of sensible, quality management.

Australia is a horror show. It is a nightmare in which most of NSW is on fire and an Aboriginal man is shot dead by cops in the Northern Territory and violence against women is at epidemic levels and there is no fucking water and the pubs are unspeakable too. 

All nightmares deserve a soundtrack. So here is a playlist of five songs that help sum this hellhole up. Sure it is one sided, dealing with the horror, not the positives that have generally come through struggle... But here in Sydney, I'm choking on too much smoke from unprecedented fires to  feel overly enthused about that right now. 

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1) A Tale They Won't Believe -- Weddings Parties Anything

"And some fool muttered 'liberty or death'..."

It turns out the convict system when Britain first colonised this continent was really fucking brutal and it brutalised people and nowhere was it more extreme than the horrific penal colony in Macquarie Harbour in Van Dieman's Land (Tasmania, which is still pretty bleak by all accounts). Those sent to what was a living hell were the poor not just from England, but places like Ireland where the vast majority were dispossessed by English landlords, forced into "illegality" just to survive. 

One such Irishman was Alexander Pearce, who was sent to Macquarie Harbour in the early 19th Century for stealing half a dozen pairs of shoes. With a bunch of others, he somehow escaped... only to find themselves lost in the desolate wildness in which First Nations peoples with thousands of years of experience could survive, but a bunch of desperate, broken Europeans certainly could not. 

Soon, they turned to cannibalism... and a more fitting tale of utter degradation and degeneracy that accompanied the violent subjugation of this continent to the European invader I cannot imagine. Suffice to say, this macabre tale is a true story.

2) Boys in Town -- The Divinyls

"Get me out of here!" 

Australian men, young men in particular, are presented in this song as mediocre and menacing to young women in equal measures, with both factors behind the increasingly insistent and desperate cry of "Get me out of here!" Luckily that's not reality! LOL!

3) Damnation -- The Nation Blue

"These streets are screaming help me!"

This song is Australia x 1000. Written about small "company towns" in far flung places like rural Tasmania, its desperate scream about standing "on toxic ground" is matched by its furious demand we "burn this fucking town down". In this song, the "town" is an analogy for this whole goddamn system, and we need to burn this fucking system down, amirite comrades?

4) River of Tears -- Kev Carmody

'Two hundred years in the river of fear...'

This is another true story. It is about a police execution of an entirely innocent Aboriginal man David Gundy in Marrickville Sydney in 1989. Sure, the cops got off scot free, but luckily it was just a one off, if you exclude all the other murders by police, up to an including the extradjudicial exectuion of Kumanjayi Walker from the Yuendumu Community in the Northern Territory just fucking days ago.

5) Anthem -- Tiddas

 "Don't sing me your anthem when your anthem's absurd..."

What else is there to say. This song by First Nations folk trio Tiddas was released two decades ago, and since then has just gotten more relevant. It would be more controversial, too, released now. For instance, Weddings Parties Anything, who start this list, covering the song on Hey Hey It's Saturday in 1999. That is the most "middle Australia" inane "rock-no-boats" show imaginable. Imagine performing a song dedicated to absolutely spitting on the Australian national anthem on any TV show in Australia today. Hell, if it was on the ABC, they'd pull it and apologise profusely for not kissing the flag ten million times every 30 seconds.

Fuck this country.

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