This song should not have been a hit. There, I said it. This song is a sort of anthem… for paying your rent? By Australians? In a bizarre chorus that I can only imagine is two roommates arguing about the world at large (“How can we dance when the earth is turning?/How do we sleep while our beds are burning?”) and their unpaid rent. At the very least one of them turns out to be the voice of reason!
Digging deeper, it actually turns out to be a protest song with the goal of returning lands to the Aboriginal Pintupi tribe. Which now explains the anti-Imperialist lyric: “Four wheels scare the cockatoos/From Kintore East to Yuendemu”.
What makes this song such a guilty pleasure for me is the raw, unpolished vocals that typified most 80’s New Wave of it’s day. Lead singer Peter Garrett does not try to “Americanize” his voice, instead accentuating the accent throughout. And who doesn’t like a song that starts with epic trumpet blasts?