Midnight Oil - Peter Garrett

I loved to listen to Midnight Oil in the late 80s, early 90s. It looks like the singer has embarked on a political carer now. How’s that going?

Any other Midnight Oil fans around?

I quite like Midnight Oil; I saw them at a small concert about 5 years ago. Peter’s political career seems to be going ok, though he gets tripped up occasionally when the realities of the world and the need for compromise conflicts with the idealistic lyrics in some of his songs.

I’m a big Midnight Oil fan. They were part of the soundtrack of my youth, growing up in the 1970s and 1980s in Australia.

Their album 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1 stayed on the Australia charts for well over 100 weeks, and songs like “Power and the Passion,” “US Forces,” and “Short Memory” were among my favorites as a teenager. I’ve seen them play live a bunch of times, and they always put on a good show.

Peter Garrett has actually been involved in politics for a long time. He started out mainly focused on environmental issues, and was the founder of the Nuclear Disarmament Party in the 1980s. He used to be much more radical than he is now; he joined the Labor Party, which in Australia politics means that you need to toe the party line, and quite a few of his former political friends and supporters seem to think he’s sold out. I don’t follow him closely enough to have an opinion.

When i was an undergraduate in Sydney, i worked for a while in the banquet division of a large, luxury hotel. We often served famous people, and i served Garrett a couple of times. He was always very friendly and polite.

ETA: he is also very tall.

Hey, I’m an Oils fan too. My understanding is that the band broke up essentially because PG wanted to pursue his political career full time. Shame, really, because their final album Capricornia is rifftastic stuff. I dig pretty much all of their stuff, from the early stuff (the prog/surf rock of “No Time for Games,” “Kosciosko,” etc.) to their later stuff from Diesel and Dust onward.

I understand his transition to full-time politico hasn’t been the smoothest. BTW, here’s his http://www.petergarrett.com.au/ webpage.

Hats off to his contribution to music. Definitely the most memorable frontman of any band of the era - the bald head, massive height, and bizarre dancing. Did you know the baldness was a voluntary choice? He used to have long hippy hair apparently, but being a surfer he and his brother cut their hair for a lark and discovered it actually helped with the surfing, so he kept it that way.

The drummer/occasional vocalist Rob Hirst has a band called Ghostwriters that actually has all of the former Oils (except PG) performing (not all on the same tracks, though). If you liked the Oils you’ll probably like some of their stuff. Hirst sang lead on a number of Oils songs, like “Kosciosko” and “When the Generals Talk”- most people assume that PG is the lead vocalist on those tracks.

He seems to have become neutered by the realities of office - it’s all very well being the high profile vocal activist pushing for change from outside the system, but now he’s officially “part of the problem”. His time in power so far has been marked by his support of many issues he would previously railed against. I don’t know how he sleeps at night, frankly.


I think he’s always been a self-indulgent, pompous twat.

Midnight Oil had some passable musical moments, but not a lot.

I live in an area where he campaigns heavily and it’s not unusal to see him at openings and such stuff. The first time I saw him I couldn’t believe how tall he is in real life! And Midnight Oil is a great band :slight_smile:

Last year during the state elections we got a letter from Peter Garret slagging off the Green party candidate in our electorate and telling us why we shouldn’t vote for him. I was VERY unimpressed. Firstly, becausee I’m not dead keen on federal politicians getting their mitts into a state election at the best of times, secondly because he’s not even a federal politician in the same state as us, thirdly because I want my politicians to tell me why I should vote for them, NOT why I shouldn’t vote for another guy, fourthly because I think it was pretty scummy to single out the Green party for attack when there were a whole raft of different party candidates standng, and the Greens are a lot closer to his original party affiliations than any other (including, IMO, the Labor party to which he now belongs) and fifthly because the letter contained at least one bullshit debating tactic and one extraordinary stretching of the truth verging on outright lie.

Basically he’s sold his soul for the chance of influencing the party in power, and I don’t think he’s even getting that. They just use him for his star power. He’d do better just getting out of politics altogether.

[/bitter and twisted]

Like I’ve said in other threads, if anybody thinks, “Oh, TLD you just dislike him because you’re a conservative”, then actually no.

Well, that is to say, “yes”, BUT…

…if I were a lifelong and loyal member of the Left, I’d have even more cause to hate him. From my side of politics, I have the luxury of simply viewing him with disdain. For the decent people on the Left, I can’t even begin to imagine how pissed off with him they must be. Garrett, as they say, never even had the goddam decency to give you guys a reacharound.

“US Forces” my conservative arse.

My mail is that he’s actually a pretty influential figure in the government but that he can’t be let out in public due to his tendency to answer questions.

When asked “Does 2 + 2 equal 4?” Penny Wong would say that the government is committed to the integrity of the process of addition and is working with stakeholders to insure its long-term sustainability, but that to comment on individual cases about which she may not have been fully briefed would be unhelpful. Garrett would say “yes” and thus be open to questions on the consequences of the government’s commitment (“Doesn’t this necessarily mean some rural communities are unviable?”) which he might also answer.

One can look at it two ways. Either you can assume he’s “sold out” ie given away his beliefs in return for obtaining power, or you can assume he still has the beliefs and now he has some real power to put those beliefs into effect, but is at the same time constrained to some degree by the need to compromise (which one isn’t when one has no power).

Personally I tend towards the view that pure minded protestation from the sidelines is all very well but achieves three fifths of bugger all. Someone in power whose ideals match mine is more likely to achieve at least something that I like, even if their ideals have been compromised to a degree.

PG has been pretty disappointing as a politician to date, but the fact is that if he carried on as if he were a 23 year old firebrand he would be changing precisely nothing in any useful direction right now or ever, because he wouldn’t be a member of the present (or any other) administration.

I don’t listen to election promises: they are always lies. I just vote for those whose general trend of thought might match mine (or against those who seem the opposite). It’s all you can do. I don’t expect to like everything my side of politics does. I just hope that the long term trend of their governance is somewhat more to my liking that the opposition’s would be.

Of course, the key question is how big this degree is. There comes a time, in some cases, where it’s so big that their former ideals are essentially meaningless.

As i said earlier in the thread, i don’t pay enough attention to know whether or not this is the case for Garrett.

I can recall hearing him on the radio a few years ago, saying (what seemed to me) strangely out of character things. I said to my sister “What’s going on here, he sounds like a politician”

She then told me he had joined the ALP.

Wouldn’t know what he’s done or not done since, I no longer have any interest.

I always though that Midnight Oil were a cool band who put 110% into their performances, but whose lyrics were juvenile. Peter Garrett now is just another celebrity politician, and is far from the worst of them.

Lyrics about indigenous affairs, nationalism, domestic and international politics, the cold war, industrial disease… In popular rock music.

Juvenile? Really? What are you comparing them to exactly? If Midnight Oil’s lyrics were juvenile, that makes the average popular music lyrics neonatal. Foetal even.

I don’t know - does juvenile include mid teens? If not, I withdraw the epiphet and replace it with ‘adolescent’. In other words, taking an issue that you think is important, and that you feel the need to tell the world about, and then writing the most obvious, knuckleheaded lyrics about it. It’s the self importance that makes it so painful. For example, Paul Kelly also wrote about the problems around indigenous/white relations, but the difference was that he was/is actually a good lyric writer (as is Archie Roach).

In a decade when lyrics for political music plumbed new depths of awfulness, the opening two lines of ‘US Forces’ are among the very lowest. If, when I was teaching, a student came up with a line like ‘How can we dance when our earth is turning?’ I would have said, “that’s not TOO bad, but sometimes it’s better to come up with something that means something, rather than something that rhymes with the song title.” Of course, by that point, their music had also gone south, so maybe it’s not worth worrying about.

(And I say all this as a person who still felt a little thrill on my first visit as an adult to Sydney, when I actually got to catch the ‘Bus To Bondi’).

Archie Roach seems to me to be an extremely nice bloke, and on first listen, his music is great. But after a bit, you realise that his songs are kind of cut off in lengths.

*"something about the kids… mmm. mmmm strum strum the kids… uh huh strum strum"

Don’t get me wrong, it’s actually moving stuff and I like it, but he’s not a great musician, IMHO.

That’s a fair point in many ways, but I took Junior Spaceman’s comment to refer to a certain painfully obvious teenage intensity. It’s a bit like a person of our generation hearing a teenage boy come home from school one day and say, “Racism sucks, man! War is bad!” Noble sentiments, but the kid hasn’t yet got to the level of realising he’s not the first to discover these things, and we don’t need him to tell us.

Archie Roach and Paul Kelly sang “From Little Things Big Things Grow” at Live8 a year or more ago, where Archie was the hero singer. It was amazing imho. I can’t find it any more or I would share it with you all :slight_smile: Missy Higgins also sang in the chorus and a verse, which was equally amazing.

Frankly if you can be a bit simplistic and angry about complex political issues in a way that gets rednecks and boofheads cheering along, that’s pretty clever in my view.