"400 Miles From Darwin" as written by and Timothy Freedman....
We pay to shed a sombre tear in the darkness together here
One among the hundreds, crying for the millions
And when the house lights break the trance
Only then unclasp our hands
Compose ourselves and fix our hair
"We would have all been Schindler there"
Drive in silence slowly home
Now horror's more than skin and bone

And can you see in twenty years
We'll pay to shed the same cheap tears
In a film about an island, watch our hero take a stand
Pay our money gladly to wash our hands

Watching the movie we'll ask how the people might have known
Let it happen there without a fight
Kept driving on quietly home
Left the Timorese alone - 400 miles from Darwin

The two-minute hate is now the three-hour love
With any action left to up above
Those people then could turn their heads
Now all the same we sleep instead
While 400 miles from Darwin
East Timor is dying

Watching the movie we'll ask how the people might have known
Let it happen there without a fight
Kept driving on quietly home
Left the Timorese alone - 400 miles from Darwin


Lyrics submitted by Kait

"400 Miles from Darwin" as written by Timothy Freedman

Lyrics © EMI Music Publishing

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400 Miles From Darwin song meanings
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  • +2
    General Comment"We pay to shed a sombre tear in the darkness together here
    One among the hundreds, crying for the millions
    And when the house lights break the trance
    Only then unclasp our hands
    Compose ourselves and fix our hair
    "We would have all been Schindler there""

    This is describing people watching the movie "Shindler's List" at a theatre, "one among the hundreds, crying for the million, house lights break the trance" and how in retrospect/thinking of their own actions in the same situation, people always assume the best of themselves "we would have all been Shindler there", when in reality, only a tiny amount of people have the courage to do something like that.

    "And can you see in twenty years
    We'll pay to shed the same cheap tears"
    In the future we will be reading/watching about the East Timor massacre just like movies of the holocaust.

    "Watching the movie we'll ask how the people might have known
    Let it happen there without a fight"
    i think this is another reference to the holocaust and how locals could hear screams and smell the burning of flesh from the gas chambers/crematoriums and did nothing, and now we ask "how could they not have known/turned their backs?" on what was happening and in 20-50 years Australians will be watching the movie of the East Timor attrocities and think "how could they (meaning YOU and ME) not have known and just turned the other cheek.


    "We pay to shed a somber tear" isn't about a candlelight vigil, it's about paying to go and see a movie about attrocities, and then at the end of the movie, composing yourself, going home and then forgetting about it.

    "A two minute hate is now a 3 hour love" to me means that the horror of the past, in the scope of history really didn't last for long, but now it has been glorified and enhanced and is now a widely talked about "blockbuster" movie.
    eebeeon April 28, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentTim wrote this shortly after the Dili massacre. It's about the genocide in East Timor, which was a horror committed by the Indonesian military, and the Australian government's involvement. At least, that's how I see it.
    CompleteNirvanaon March 15, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti agree with the poster above me, the song is about apathy, how 400 miles from their costline, they sleep safe at night while there is terror going on, and no one cares until retrospect, when the time has passed to do something, then everyone comes out of the woodwork wishing they had "known" the "scope" of the terror, otherwise they would have done something about it, sure they would have!!! its telling people to take a stand and not just let people get massacred, when they see the chance do something, do anything, hold a sign, donate money, do anything dont just goto bed and forget about it, it has nothing to do with the aussie governments involment so much as their reaction, they let it happen, and thats the entire point, dont turn your head, do something about injustice ...
    nuitaruson August 03, 2006   Link
  • -1
    General CommentIt's sort of focussing on Australian reactions to the Dili massacre.
    There's a candlelight vigil (we pay to shed the sombre tear in the darkness together here) but then everyone just goes and sees a happy movie afterwards, like it's just a token effort that makes us feel good about ourselves and then we can escape and stop worrying about it.

    "We would have all been Schindler there."
    We like to imagine ourselves being in places like Timor and helping people in a way that's actually workable and possible like Schindler, but how many of us actually do anything?

    "A two minute hate is now a three hour love" is the most interesting line. Two minute hate is from 1984, and it was just this organised time when everyone concentrated any feelings of hate on a particular enemy of the state and it was a way of controlling the people. Perhaps the line sugests that this token effort of a vigil (the three-hour love) is just a way of keeping people complacent about the issues and problems in East Timor. "I care, I spent three hours caring, now I'm a good person and I can get on with life."

    It's just drawing attention to this sort of faux-caring and apathy, which is just a natural part of being human.
    It's a very cleverly written song
    yllason May 06, 2004   Link
  • -1
    General Commenti agree with the poster above me, the song is about apathy, how 400 miles from their costline, they sleep safe at night while there is terror going on, and no one cares until retrospect, when the time has passed to do something, then everyone comes out of the woodwork wishing they had "known" the "scope" of the terror, otherwise they would have done something about it, sure they would have!!! its telling people to take a stand and not just let people get massacred, when they see the chance do something, do anything, hold a sign, donate money, do anything dont just goto bed and forget about it, it has nothing to do with the aussie governments involment so much as their reaction, they let it happen, and thats the entire point, dont turn your head, do something about injustice ...
    nuitaruson August 03, 2006   Link

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