May 3, 2020 by 1888media


Australian icon Paul Kelly has released a powerful new song entitled, “Sleep, Australia, Sleep,” which he professes is “a lament in the form of a lullaby. A lullaby that sounds a warning.”

The official video, directed by Siân Darling, features images of the glory and ruin of the natural world as well as human efforts to protect it.

Much of the footage was kindly provided by conservation organizations including, Original Power, Aussie Ark, World Wildlife Fund Australia, Australian Conservation Foundation, Great Barrier Reef Legacy, Zoos Victoria, and 350 Pacific.

Kelly has a long history of protest songs, or songs that ring true to what’s happening in the world, particularly in Australia. On his first U.S. release, Gossip (A&M 1986), the song “Maralinga (Rainy Land)” tells of how nuclear tests scarred the land and the people who depended upon it.

His 1991 album Comedy includes “From Little Things Big Things Grow,” about the Gurindji Strike, activist Vincent Lingiari, and the indigenous struggle for land rights.

Paul Kelly Sleep Australia Sleep

Kelly co-wrote “Treaty,” released in ’91 by Yothu Yindi, the first song by a predominantly Aboriginal band to chart and gain extensive international recognition. It highlighted the lack of progress on the treaty between Indigenous Australians and the government. In 1992, “Special Treatment,” on Kelly’s album Hidden Things, spoke to racism and inequality.

His 1998 release Words & Music included “Little Kings,” a song about the way Aboriginals are poorly treated in the name of European “progress.” “Emotional” and “This Land Is Mine” were tunes he wrote to make a political point. Now, “Sleep, Australia, Sleep” joins a list of politically engaged songs penned and performed by Kelly.

“Sleep, Australia, Sleep” was recorded December 11, 2019, at Union St. Studio, West Brunswick, by Roger Bergodaz and mixed by John Castle. Kelly debuted the song live in Australia with the Pub Choir.

The Players:
Paul Kelly – Vocal, acoustic guitar and celeste melody
Alice Keath – Vocal, autoharp and celeste chords
Sime Nugent – Vocal and acoustic guitar

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