"The Dead Heart" as written by Martin Rotsey, Peter Gifford, Robert Hirst, James Moginie and Peter Garrett....
We don't serve your country
Don't serve your king
Know your custom don't speak your tongue
White man came took everyone

We don't serve your country
Don't serve your king
White man listen to the songs we sing
White man came took everything

We carry in our hearts the true country
And that cannot be stolen
We follow in the steps of our ancestry
And that cannot be broken

We don't need protection
Don't need your land
Keep your promise on where we stand
We will listen we'll understand

Mining companies, pastoral companies
Uranium companies
Collected companies
Got more right than people
Got more say than people

Forty thousand years can make a difference to the state of things
The dead heart lives here

Lyrics submitted by themancky

"The Dead Heart" as written by Martin Rotsey James Moginie

Lyrics © BMG Rights Management, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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The Dead Heart song meanings
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  • +4
    General Commentthe song is regarding a more specific issue than just the development of "civillization". its echoing the plight of the Austrailian Aborigines, whose situation is mucht the same as that of the American Indian--"White man came took everything".
    this is a strident song calling for a reemergence of aboriginal pride and cultural heritage; a heritage repressed for many years by the Australian government and populace. the lines regarding industry are targeted specifically at those industries which have recieved favors from the government at the expense of the Aboriginal people. the Aborigines have been repeatedly shunted aside to accomodate these "collected companies" without any recompense in many instances.

    this is not a song condeming the development of society. this a song decrying the abuse of men.
    m46p15on June 05, 2003   Link
  • +2
    General Commentwhen i first heard this song, i thought it was about native americans. i'm a us citizen, and midnight oils' australian accents didn't really come across in the music. kind of sad that the same fate captured both aboriginies and american indians...
    jkwon June 14, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentIts the plight of Indigenous Australians from their point of view. The song brilliantly captures not only their plight, but their use of English as a pidgin language.
    If you've ever heard an Aboriginie speak, especially one from the centre of Australia (more so than the cities), you'll know that they speak in an interesting way. "White man came took everything", not only a great lyric, but a very accurate representation of how an Aboriginie would communicate in the English language.

    Hooray for Midnight Oil!
    Arianrhodon February 04, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentMidnight Oil were known political activists, especially for aboriginal issues (see "Beds are Burning" and "Truganani.") This is possibly my favorite of their songs, it is so evocative and the horn section in the end always brings me to tears. They are talking about aboriginal culture (believed to be about 40,000 years old in Australia) and the destruction of that culture and their native lands by strip mining and environmental damage - anther major cause for Midnight Oil. Brilliant, brilliant, protest song, even though I usually don't like when white artists co-opt the struggles of minorities. Midnight Oil really get it (another great example: Paul Kelly, "From Little Things Big Things Grow", which is the story of the Gurindji people fighting for almost a decade to get the rights to their traditional land)
    madakazamon April 04, 2013   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationThis is a song about the British taking the Aboriginals Land and how the Aboriginal people have been ignored in favor of big companies by the government since colonization. The words are saying that through all the things that were taken from them, that they still deserve more political and cultural say as they have been here for 40,000 years long and that it should be embraced.
    bdevineon January 01, 2014   Link
  • 0
    General CommentForty thousand years ago was about when anthropologists believe humanity developed the concept of language and, with it, symbolic thought.

    What the band is trying to say, I believe, is that Western society, somehow, has fallen off the track, that we no longer live the way nature/God/whatever meant us to live. To some degree, he's right.

    The question is, is that entirely a bad thing? Sure, corporations have far too much power and influence over our daily lives.

    While we don't live simple hunter/gatherer lifestyles, humanity's legacy is technological advance. Without these advances, which are the legacy of language and symbolic thought, our fate will be no different than any other species on this planet - we'll spend our time here, then disappear.

    Personally, I'm not too fond of that idea.
    SirThorethon June 04, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General CommentGreat song...I love how Midnight Oil make anthems like this which are damn catchy and have a great meaning. Also, check out the video clip for this song, it's very powerful..especially the shots of hundreds of tourists walking over the Aboriginal sacred site, Uluru, in fast-foward.
    Aneurysm1985on June 22, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI believe that 40,000 years ago refers to when aboriginals first moved into Australia - well before whites. A song that can make you cry.
    chrisb1on March 06, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think the idea if "country" is also an important concept on this song. This awesome song is, afterall, called dead country. So what is the dead country? Here's my 2 cents:

    it could be the westernized parts of modern Austrailia. The pursuit of economic interests in rural austrailia transformed the physical landscape (in the form of mines, mining towns, ranches ect) and ultimately reshaped parts of the aboriginal "country". I suppose these places are physically dead (in that they no longer maintain their former ecological and social functions). But more importantly, according to the song, the physical place is only one part of country - the actual culture, customs, values and beliefs continue to live on in the hearts and minds of the aboriginals, despite the changes wrought to the kandacape by the English/Aussies.
    dino_bravo50on February 17, 2011   Link
  • -1
    General Comment"We carry in our hearts the true country."

    I love this line purely for the reason that no matter how Americanized Australian society is becoming, deep in our hearts we can only be Australian and what it stands for.
    ShakespearesSisteron June 09, 2006   Link

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