Midnight Oil

[Powderworks] capricornia thoughts

Tom Davies tdav@wam.umd.edu
Fri, 22 Feb 2002 02:03:03 -0500 (EST)

hey all,

Capricornia is inspiring me to type some more reactions/thoughts, so here

The band must *really* like Say Your Prayers. They seem to play it a lot
in concert, judging by recent setlists and my memory of the concerts I was
at last fall. And they stuck it on the US version of Capricornia. I can
see why they did that, since Capricornia's the first US-released album to
contain that song -- but why didn't they do the same with Spirit of the
Age and Last of the Diggers? Those are a couple of great songs, and they
would have fit on the album pretty well, I think.

Best song on Capricornia, for me right now, is Mosquito March. That chorus
of "get a simple answer" just demands me to sing along every time. I guess
it speaks to particular concerns of mine as a grad student in an English
department, having to deal with poststructuralist theory and the complete
lack of anything resembling simple answers. Oh, and of course the song

The album seems relatively apolitical. Only relatively, of course, but SYP
is the only real "protest song" on there -- a major change in direction
from Redneck Wonderland. On some later occasion, when I've had time to
digest it more, I'll probably want to start analyzing the subtle political
statements on this album, but not now. The relative lack of overt politics
is neither a good nor a bad thing -- the stuff they're talking about
instead is just as important, and it's all connected anyway. 

The image on the disc itself -- the flock of pink cockatoos -- is
downright gorgeous. The cover art is interesting. (I'm talking about the
cardboard version here since that's the one I have.) There's that calf's
face on the front cover, and then on the front and back of the booklet of
liner notes there's a herd of cows, one of which is the same calf from the
front cover. What does it mean? Very much in the eye of the beholder as
usual... cattle grazing is a major industry in the far north of Australia
so on one level it's just a depiction of that aspect of "Capricornia" the
place... Being a vegetarian and somewhat conscious of (though not an
activist for) animal-rights issues, I can't help but notice how emotional
that calf looks -- that's an individual being right there, not just a
future piece of meat, not just fodder for an industry. And then I can't
help seeing an allegory from the cattle industry to society in general,
the way capitalism and the military-industrial-political-mass-media
complex conspires to herd us around and make us into unthinking fodder for
dehumanizing profit-oriented systems...

yeah I know I'm getting really ideological here; I don't mean to offend
anyone personally or even to start a debate about politics, but this stuff
is obviously not irrelevant to discussing a band like the Oils...

what else... anyone else think Too Much Sunshine is too repetitive? It's a
song I really want to like, but I just think they overdo it with repeating
the one-line chorus ad nauseam towards the end.

For all the supposed sweetness of this album, there's a darkness in it
that I'm quite attracted to. Capricornia (the song) is full of references
to death, and to rejection (or so I interpret "the back of your
hand"). Gasoline junkies dance stoned... there's an image we didn't see on
D&D -- is it a more recent cultural development, or just something they
didn't want to depict last time they made an album in the desert?

Luritja Way I adored live, and only quite like on the album. There's
something special about hearing Peter sing out, "I'm reaching out for
you... across a thousand years... cause I still believe in you." The album
version doesn't quite capture that. Makes me wish the band would put out
another official live album to capture all the stuff they've done since
SiB and some of the early stuff that didn't get represented on
SiB. Probably can't hope for that any time soon, but maybe before they

What's the picture on the inside of the cardboard cover? Looks like a
field full of dead black flowers... is that accurate?

that was pretty long... man, it's fun to think about new Oils music...