From Little Things, Big Things Grow: the GetUp Mob

Making pop songs from political speeches seems to be becoming a trend.

The GetUp Mob has set the Apology to music. The song originates in Paul Kelly’s “From Little Things, Big Things Grow”, written in the 80s about the 1966 Gurindji stockman’s strike over wages (read the story here and here). There’s a little of Paul Keating’s Redfern speech in at the end, too.

Check out the GetUp Mob’s version here.

The lyric, as best I can manage it. If anyone can fill in the bits from the bridge at 1:25 (“Lighting up the path”), please let me know. [Edit: thanks to Tarryn and Deborah Taggart for helping out – any more corrections are welcome.]

As Prime Minister of Australia, I am sorry.
On behalf of the Government of Australia, I am sorry.
On behalf of the Parliament of Australia, I am sorry.
And I offer you this apology without qualification.

To say sorry means to give respect
It’s long overdue
Now you failed to imagine
What if it happened to you

Now they’re not only words now it’s not just a symbol
Accepting the past, well it’s not always simple
When thinking of yesterday
We live for tomorrow
We can’t face the future now
Till we face the sorrow

Now under the colours, yeah
Of red, yellow, black
We say “Never again”
We say “No turning back”

From little things, big things grow
From little things, big things grow
From little things, big things grow
From little things, big things grow

Lighting up the path
With good in our heart
See the more that you look
The better for all
So he sang as he walked
And together we stand
For we’re sure to stand tall
We must all play our part
[Rudd: “indigenous and non indigenous”]
Tears within our brow
Yes forward we struggle and all we’ve achieved
Will be nothing if greed was the only motivation of man
So we can love one another, and with respect for each other
Then we move forward [“reconciled”] together

From little things, big things grow
From little things, big things grow
From little things, big things grow
From little things, big things grow

There are moments in the lives of nations
Where hope and history rhyme
And now’s one of those times
Let’s close the gap and if we truly mean it
we can stare down our future and find
we can see through those eyes
And let us not stand with those who deny

It seems to me that if we can imagine the injustice
We can imagine the opposite
And we can have justice

From little things, big things grow
From little things, big things grow
From little things, big things grow
From little things, big things grow


All of us are one, because we are human
And if I cut you, you cut me, what comes out?
red blood, not different colour blood, only red blood. Yes.

[Via etfb]

Categories: indigenous, media, Politics

Tags: , ,

8 replies

  1. in reference to filling in the blanks i tried and i think that after “and together we stand” it continues on to say- ” for the short we stand tall and the story how (or thus) far” im not certain about the “story how far” bit?
    Then down after “[Rudd: “reconcile”] i think it says “then we move forward, together”

  2. Political commentary in song has been something which has been part of Australian culture since before there was a name for it. Broadsheet ballads about transportation; bush ballads glorifying the runaway bushrangers; cynical little tales of the difference between Australia and “Back Home”; stories about drought, about floods, about the bloody plagues of rabbits etc. There’s songs all over the country which make political comments.
    I have a few – there’s “Thanks to the Yanks”, which is a lovely little comment on the way we seem to be digging up half the country and selling it overseas to our nice colonial overlords. Then there’s a wonderful song about the F1-11, current to when those planes were first being flown around (and then put back together again)… which I had running through my head while I was reading newspaper reports about the Air Force wanting to upgrade *from* the F1-11s to something newer. It’s sad when your first thought on the notion of spending millions of dollars of taxpayer money is “will the name still scan?”
    Paul Kelly is one of our better pop/folk writers when it comes to Aboriginal stories – I think just about every album from “Under the Sun” onward has at least one song which comments on the two sides of Australian life (Indigenous and non-Indigenous). But other political commenters in the public ear include good old Redgum (“I was only 19″; “Drover’s Dog” – does anyone else remember that one?); The John Butler Trio does a fairly good line in political comment with a tune; not to mention all the political satirists.
    I suppose if you can whistle it, it works.
    Meg Thornton’s last blog post..Steele, Part 5 of ?

  3. i figred it out, sorry lol, its actually-
    ” for us all to stand tall we must all play our part” istead of the “short will stand tall and the story how far” which i thought it was before.
    sorry, bit different but im sure this time

  4. Hey, thanks for posting…I couldn’t find lyrics on google at first, so spent half an hour trying to figure out. Then when I was stuck, checked again and your blog had been posted.
    Collaborating with you helped me fill in some gaps. My version has a few differences (eg. symbol where you have simple twice), see at
    Thanks again
    Deborah Taggart’s last blog post..From Little Things Big Things Grow

  5. Thanks, Tarryn and Deb!

  6. Meg: I remember “I Was Only 19″ well. (Does that age me?) Also Midnight Oil (“Beds Are Burning”, etc), Yothu Yindi’s “Treaty”, “And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda”, “Rip Rip Woodchip”.
    I was talking more of what is (to me) a new phenomenon – starting with film and audio of a landmark political speech and setting original music around it. The Obama ”Yes We Can” songvid is the most obvious example.
    But maybe I’ve just got a bad memory! Anyone?

  7. Hey lauredhel,
    what about ‘please explain?’?

  8. what about ‘please explain?’?

    Ah, Pauline Pantsdown. I might go Youtubing.
    And for a bonus, the Chaser taking the piss out of her racism, “Pauline” (to the tune of “Jolene”; lyrics at link):
    Lauredhel’s last blog post..?Open Source Boob Project?: Around the blogs

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