"King Of The Mountain" as written by Martin Rotsey, Robert Hirst, James Moginie, Peter Garrett and Wayne Stevens....
Walking through the high dry grass, pushing my way through slow
Yellow belly black snake, sleeping on a red rock
Waiting for the stranger to go
Sugar train stops at the crossing, cane cockies cursing below
Bad storm coming, better run to the top of the mountain

Mountain in the shadow of light, rain in the valley below
Well you can say you're Peter, say you're Paul
Don't put me up on your bedroom wall, call me the king of the mountain

Blacksmith fires up the bellows, cane cutters burning the load
Workers of the world, run to the top of the mountain

Mountain in the

I can't take my hands from my face, there are some things we can't replace

Mountain in the

Over liquid tarmac wastelands of cactus and heat
Down cobblestone alleyways of washing day sheets
Up ghost prairie mountains of sunset and space
Down the road at a familiar place, across the wilderness
Out further than the bush I will follow you


Lyrics submitted by Golgotha

"King of the Mountain" as written by Martin Rotsey James Moginie

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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King Of The Mountain song meanings
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  • +3
    General CommentI think this song was designed to work on two very different levels. One is the story of Peter Brock, an Australian ‘working class hero’, and a description of a Bathurst race at Mt Panorama. Peter Brock, repeat winner of the race, is the King of the Mountain. A second but deeper level relates to a common theme in Midnight Oil’s lyrics, the plight of the marginalised Australian Aborigines. In this story, the King and the mountain relates to the Aboriginal people, rightful owners of the land, and the moral high ground respectively.

    The first verse is a description of the environment around Mt Panorama during Bathurst, and the people rushing through crowds to find a viewpoint for the event

    Walking through the high dry grass, pushing my way through slow
    *(evokes images of an aboriginal bushman walking through the Australian grassland, quietly, peacefully and in harmony with the land)
    Yellow belly black snake, sleeping on a red rock
    *(aboriginal flag)
    *(this is the key link to understanding the secondary story.)
    Waiting for the stranger to go
    *(the aboriginal man is submissive to the new white faces, and waits patiently for them to go)
    Sugar train stops at the crossing
    *(The aboriginal people witness the white man not only staying, but establishing roots to the land, developing industry and taking complete control without any regard for the natives.)
    cane cockies cursing below
    *(Cane cutters/ farmers)
    *(white man thinking about his own problems and ignoring the fact they are occupying the aboriginals land.)
    Bad storm coming, better run to the top of the mountain
    *(the aboriginals intuition about the land which was developed and refined over many centuries, has to be adapted in a very short amount of time to cope with new problems.)
    *(Run to the top of the mountain- Find your deserved pride during this ‘bad storm’- time of moral injustice.)

    The Pre-Chorus appears to be about the mountain (Mt. Panorama) and the valley below (Macquarie River Valley.) A Bathurst race is notorious for having different weather conditions on different parts of the track at the same time, as a result of the unusual topography. Peter Brock was also known as Paul, and is also referred to whilst linking the themes.

    Mountain in the shadow of light, rain in the valley below
    *(The mountain is the moral high ground. It is casting a shadow over the consciences of the wrongdoers in the moral valley below. The moral high ground is occupied by the aboriginal land owners, the moral vacuum by the white men who stole their land.)
    Well you can say you're Peter, say you're Paul
    *(White man’s names)- aboriginal person saying ‘I don’t give a shit who you are’
    Don't put me up on your bedroom wall,
    *(think of westerners vanity, desire for fame and money and idolisation of celebrity) ‘we don’t need your materialistic bullshit’
    call me the king of the mountain
    *(reference to Peter Brock, who is a white mans idol- on posters and up on bedroom walls) ‘We were here first, in my heart I know we are the real owners of the land’ (Kings are land owners.)
    Blacksmith fires up the bellows, cane cutters burning the load
    (back to methodical western routine and industry, but gives more of an impression of raping the land of its resources with words like burning)
    Workers of the world, run to the top of the mountain
    *(seems like Garret is linking the plight of the aboriginal peoples to the struggles the worlds working classes face with imperialism, colonisation etc.- They have also had to adapt quickly -to things like globalization etc. They rightfully deserve the moral high ground.)
    I can't take my hands from my face, there are some things we can't replace
    *(aboriginal person in agony at the thought of his land being taken and scarred in ways that will never be able to return to the way they were before.)
    Over liquid tarmac wastelands of cactus and heat Down cobblestone alleyways of washing day sheets. Up ghost prairie mountains of sunset and space. Down the road at a familiar place, across the wilderness. Out further than the bush
    *(a description of the Australian landscape and the new environments created by the settlers in Australia)
    I will follow you
    *(Peter Garret saying he will follow the aboriginal people as king of the mountain, true owners and keepers of the Australian land.)
    bradisgodon September 16, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentIs it about Peter Brock?
    chrisb1on February 01, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentYep, it's about Aussie racing legend Peter Brock. The mountain referred to is Mount Panarama in Bathurst and the valley refers to Maquarie River Valley.
    Arawilwarinon June 24, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think its about the hard workers of a country. That they are the backbone of the country and they should be the people others look up to.They dont want praise, just recognition. The song gives examples of places that hard workers work and what sorts of jobs hard workers do. True Aussie Spirit, selflessness and work ethic.
    ACE 22on February 19, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentMy favourite Oils song.

    This song reminds of just being part of this wonderful country, the Australian summer and for some reason, cricket.
    ShakespearesSisteron June 09, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI agree with ACE 22, though it does make me think of ol' 05. The King of the Mountain
    Berrieon February 09, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentSorry folks, it has nothing to do with Bathurst at all. ACE 22 up there has the right general idea.
    scutter_2on June 22, 2007   Link
  • 0
    Song MeaningI have been told that this song actually has to do with a race that takes in a town called Pamona in Qld Australia.The Race is called "KING OF THE MOUNTAIN" where the contestants race up and back down MT.Cooroora.Apparently the Bands Drum player lived near by there.
    matcs77on October 01, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI'm with Ace 22. It's very unlike Midnight Oil to glorify some rev-heads (even if I am one and wish it were about a car race) and feel the story refers less to Peter Brock and more to Peter and Paul from the Bible (even though he's not religious at all, he was prone to references to Bible stuff) and the hero here is more the working man who isn't looking for recognition - unlike Brockie whom I love greatly but who could never pass down a chance to get his name bandied about.
    kateemma22on October 27, 2012   Link
  • 0
    Song MeaningThis song is about Mt. Cooroora, in the Noosa Hinterland Qld. town of Pomona. I have spoken to Robbie Hirst, MO's former drummer and he confirmed this. There is a foot race up Mt. Cooroora on the fourth Sunday of July every year called 'King of the Mountain. The song has nothing to do with Mt. Panorama.
    robynjoneson April 03, 2013   Link

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