Midnight Oil

[Powderworks] Oils on World Cafe

Kelly Morris km97mo@yahoo.com
Mon, 29 Apr 2002 06:03:59 -0700 (PDT)

To comment on this: 

Some Worker claimed:
 > Pete said that an artist's inherent 
 > responsibility is not to address social issues
   but to be true to art.
> So they were only kidding! All that ranting about
> social justice, economic EQ, Land claims, etc. VIA 
> politically charged rocking was done without any
> sense of inherent responsibility. I just knew it -  
  I'm going to have to find me a new political super  
hero.  ;)
> Seriously, I'd be careful how you couch this kind of
> thing, or quote, or whatever it is.

I'm the worker who "claimed" the above statement, and
while it isn't a direct quote, it's very close.  Pete
said that during the World Cafe broadcast.  

Personally I don't think he sounds like a sell out at
all.  That's a harsh judgement on someone who has done
so much.  I think you are confusing the band members'
personal opinions and concerns about the world with
the band's motives itself.  All Pete was saying was
that the band does not exist to spread a message
around the world.  It exists first to make music.  
However, it's natural for the band's opinions to
appear in their music.  People write what they know
and what they care about.

I have an interview disc from 1993 (Westwood One, Off
The Record Special) in which Pete addresses this very
issue.  Maybe it will help put his comments into a
better context.
This is word for word by the way, so if you don't like
what he says, don't attack me.

Pete: "We don't use the music to promulgate the ideal.
 That's a really big mistake or idea that people,
particularly in America, have about things.  Because
they think that we must sit around thinking about what
it is that we are going to say and then put it on a
record to say it.  That's wrong.  It doesn't happen
like that at all.  It happens completely the other way
around.  In other words, we sit around trying to get
songs together and then they come out and some of them
have got ideas and notions and thoughts in them and
everybody goes "oh, ok."  

The radio host comments on how "politically aware" the
band is.  Then she says, "So what does Peter Garrett
really think about the message in their music?

Pete:  "I just think that Midnight Oil can't always be
profound about what's happening in the world.  I mean,
in many ways, we just have to do the things that we do
and if we're in time with how people feel about things
and if we're getting very positive responses from
people, like we're getting from yourself and hopefully
from other people in America, then we consider
ourselves incredibly lucky.  We could come out with
something which everybody vehemently disagrees with
and to be quite honest with you, I think we probably
will in our time . . ."

"Now, I don't think you get much done through music. 
Personally.  I mean, that's my own feeling.  I think
you've got to do more than just listen to the song. 
You've got to go out and, you know, you've got to
vote, and you've got to get on the Gore/Clinton ticket
and hand out leaflets and throw out the Republican
ratbags.  Or you've gotta go down to the river and
help the people who are fishing the plastic bags out.
Or you've gotta go and turn the TV off and be prepared
to be arrested for principles that you think are
important.  I mean, music is not activism.  It's
music.  Activism is activism.  The two things, they
can help one another.  Music can fuel it (activism)and
provide people with a bit of a soundtrack, but it
won't replace it.  All the pop stars in the world
singing about hunger is not going to feed a single
soul.  We've got to do- it's got to be more than that.
I mean, it's a starting point.  I'm not knocking it,
but there's gotta be more to happen."

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