"Short Memory" as written by Martin Rotsey, Peter Gifford, Robert Hirst, James Moginie and Peter Garrett....
Conquistador of Mexico, the Zulu and the Navaho
The Belgians in the Congo short memory
Plantation in Virginia, the Raj in British India
The deadline in South Africa short memory
The story of El Salvador, the silence of Hiroshima
Destruction of Cambodia short memory

Short memory, must have a, short memory

The sight of hotels by the Nile, the designated Hilton style
With running water specially bought short memory
A smallish man Afghanistan, a watch dog in a nervous land
They're only there to lend a hand short memory
Wake up in sweat at dead of night
And in the tents new rifles hey short memory

If you read the history books you'll see the same things happen again and again
Repeat repeat short memory they've all got it
When are we going to play it again
Got a short, got a short, got a short, got a short
They've got a short must have a short they've got a short aah
Short memory, they've got a.


Lyrics submitted by Chris_Gough

"Short Memory" as written by Martin Rotsey James Moginie

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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Short Memory song meanings
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9 Comments

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  • +3
    General CommentI'd recommend you get a copy of the Goat Island Concert (its on DVD called best of Both Worlds) fantastioc renditions of this and many other OIls songs.
    And Short Memory is just as valid today with the Iraq debacle still in full swing with unfortunately the first Aussie killed there today.
    chrisb1on February 01, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentProabably my favourite Midnight Oil song...I've heard some killer live versions of it...I just can't get enough of the way the Peter Garrett rants on for 15 or so seconds right before the song finishes...I wish I knew what he's saying, but it's probably impro.
    Aneurysm1985on June 22, 2003   Link
  • +1
    General Commentit's about war and imperialism. and the mistakes many people make from them not remembering the lessons to be learned from those occurences, hence the short memory!
    flaminmofoon November 11, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt's all about imperialism, colonialism and the repression of weaker races in their homelands. Hiroshima and Cambodia were places subjected to the most horrific aerial bombardment in the past sixty years. No mention of Dresden though. The song title tells it all; how quickly we forget the lessons of the past. This is an excellent song - one of about 75% of the 10...1 Album that could have been or were successful singles in Australia, way back in 1983.
    Bojianon July 23, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentGreat guitars, great synthesisers, great vox, loving it. I've listened the to the Garrett ranting at the end, and I agree Aneuyrysm, its rawks! It is "If you read the history books you'll see the same things happen again and again
    Repeat repeat short memory they've all got it
    When are we going to play it again
    Got a short, got a short, got a short, got a short
    They've got a short must have a short they've got a short aah Short memory, they've got...." I'm lovin' this gon!!!
    englephaton June 21, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWait... the same Peter Garret that's my local MP? Sweet, I never made the connection with him and this song... just Midnight Oil. Wish I could vote.
    kingoftheworldon July 02, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAbsolutely, Goat Island was an awesome concert. I saw them at Sterwart Hotel at Alexandra Headland in the late 80's. They were supported by the Wurrumpi band who were also awesome. This some is quite interesting. If you think about it, The English kind of stuffed themselves up with Australia. Some of countries mentioned in the song have been used by their invaders to profit from the culture of that country by making slaves and workers of the natives. The English didn't even take the opportunity to this, they tried to turn Australia into a white society by ridding it of anything Indigenous. So now much of the 'known history' of the Indigenous is gone. So, now the problem is trying to piece it all back together again so that Indigenous Australians can have some identity again.
    Bear157on December 22, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt's about how soldiers are accountable for what they do in wars, not just the countries that send them. A soldier must have a short memory (no conscience) in order to do what they do.
    Wonder Nedon August 26, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAnybody know the reference to "the friendly five"?
    aiiiieeon August 31, 2013   Link

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