David Fleming
It's All Academic   www.davidflemingsite.com   
Day 2: Midnight Oil (Sometimes)

April 28, 2020

Day 2 in the quest to recognize 365 artists via 365 songs before I turn 59.

Every parent hopes that their children find something dear to the parent and embrace it for themselves. That is true with my son, Lincoln, who from the time he was a fetus has lived in a world defined by his mom's and dad's musical tastes. At the age of about 7, he was recreating concert scenes from concert videos we watched, and as he turns 21 he is "waking" up to the magnificence of Belly 30 years after that band was big.  For every freaking Blink-182, where I swear he is just trying to needle his old man, there are the sometimes we are synched and psyched by the same thing.

In fact, "Sometimes," here, could apply to the James song or the Midnight Oil song. Both are equally important for Lincoln and me. But I write of the Oils.

Early on, as Lincoln defined music for himself, the brash political manifesto of Midnight Oil spoke to him. I first heard--and loved--the Australian band upon discovering "Power and the Passion," whose very title seemed to reduce the band's brilliance to two key words. However, for Lincoln, he gravitated toward the passion and the power of "Sometimes," the final song from Diesel and Dust, Midnight Oil's breakthrough album of the late 1980s. When it came on a couple of nights ago, I was reminded via the slashing guitars, hammered drumming, and full-on assault of the vocals on the chorus that in 3 minutes 50 seconds, it manages to do what one would want every song to do -- philosophize, politicize, and poe-ticize the human condition, all in the midst of a pulverize of the instruments. Whereas in "Power And The Passion," the Oils had reminded me "it is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees," in "Sometimes" the sentiment of "sometimes you're taken to the wall/but you don't give in" seems a better one for my son to use on his social media feeds. I'd rather he have resiliency than defiance.

It's easy for a parent to think they have provided their kids a sheltered life, even before the time of shelter-in-place. Sure, he has had his difficulties, but I am tempted to tell Lincoln that others have had it much harder. Then I am reminded that we all have our pains, thus there is no better message for my kid to believe than "don't leave your heart in a hard place."

I've seen Midnight Oil three times, the last time with Lincoln in Chicago. "Sometimes" lends itself to the joy of watching Rob Hirst drum, arms raised in triumphant slam on the drum, and Peter Garrett prowl, shirt half-torn, while the rest of the band bushwhack through the tune, stage and theater "shaken to the core." In Chicago, Lincoln was at the front of the crowd, while his mother and I were in the back, so I didn't get to see what I imagine was the unrivaled joy of seeing your anthem played by one of the greatest live acts ever.

Sometimes it doesn't get any better than this. 

"Sometimes." Midnight Oil. Diesel And Dust.  Columbia. 1987.  Video link here (because it needs to be seen).

Day 1: Big Country "Chance."

Day 3: The Soul Children "Who Is She And What Is She To You."

See complete list here.