Archie Roach is a singer and songwriter. He rose to fame in 1990 with his award-winning album “Charcoal Lane”. The song “Took the Children Away” comes from this album. The lyrics are about the treatment of aboriginal people and especially children who were taken from their families (called the Stolen Generations). The song is based on Roach´s own experiences. Roach´s family were moved from the countryside to live on a mission. As a small child, Roach and his siblings were taken away from their parents and placed in an orphanage and in foster homes. Later they were adopted by a Scottish immigrant family.
You can read the lyrics and an interview Archie Roach below:
After watching the music video, make notes on the following:
1a. What story is told in the song? Go through the song verse by verse and make a brief summary of the main points.
1b. Does this song have a message? What is the message?
1c. How does this song link to what you have learnt about the treatment of aboriginal people previously?
Briggs is a modern day rapper, writer and actor. He released this song in July 2015 to celebrate aboriginal people´s culture and achievements. Achievements made in spite of living under oppressive governmental policies. Briggs wrote this song as a sequel to Archie Roach´s song :
You can read about the song and read the lyrics here:
After watching Brigg´s song and reading the lyrics, make notes on the following:
2a. Brigg´s names a lot of famous aboriginal Australians in his song. Who are they? Choose at least five names mentioned in the lyrics and look them up online. Why do you think Brigg´s chose to mention these people?
2b. What is the message of Brigg´s song?
After looking at both songs and working with the tasks above, answer the following questions:
3a. What similarities are there between the way aboriginal people are treated in both songs?
3b. In what ways do the messages of these songs differ?
3c. Briggs´ song is meant to be a sequel to Roach´s. Do you think it works well as a sequel? Why/why not?
Questions for reflection:
4a. Should music be political or should be for entertainment only?
4b. Which of our senses/ways of knowing does music appeal to?
4c. How can music work as a medium for social change?
4d. What other examples of political music lyrics do you know of? How effective do you think they are?
Interested in finding out more about music made by Aboriginal Australians? Have a look at the Skinnyfish Music website. Skinnyfish records and promotes Aboriginal music. Their aim is “to empower indigenous Australians to generate and pursue their own creative and economic activity”.