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Red sails in the sunset

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Midnight Oil's 1984 album "Red Sails in the Sunset"
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OKLAHOMA CITY – Motoring west, along Route 66, between Chandler and Wellston, the satellite radio station suddenly found itself playing hits from the 1940’s. And what big hit was playing? Why, it was “Red Sails in the Sunset” by Bing Crosby.

Red sails in the sunset, way out on the sea / Oh carry my loved one home safely to me,” croons Crosby.

But for this child of the 80’s, I’m more familiar with Midnight Oil’s 1984 political-rock album Red Sails in the Sunset, featuring the absolutely shocking photomontage album artwork featuring a cratered and nuked-out Sydney, Australia – the band’s hometown - following a nuclear attack.

The artwork was created by Japanese artist Tsunehisa Kimura. The "sails" are of the wrecked Sydney Opera House. The sunset is the flash, detonation and fiery aftermath. The Oils recorded Red Sails in the Sunset in Tokyo. A must for any 80's rock fan.

This "red" theme I've been investigating syncs perfectly with my hearing Bing Crosby's "Red Sails in the Sunset" on the radio. It is in line with my dreams/visions about a coming “event” and the sync color of “red.” Red rain. Red skies. Red sails in the sunset.

Brilliant, hard-hitting songs on Red Sails in the Sunset, like “When the Generals Talk,” “Best of Both Worlds,” “Minutes to Midnight” and more. The strummy “Minutes to Midnight” talks of “Seas full of submarines" and "AWACs like flies” as the countdown to Armageddon commences.

Continues the bald and direct Peter Garrett: “Remember your childhood / Remember the journey / Hope is what you say and do …but ears can’t here what eyes don’t see / And you can’t see me.”

And from 1982’s 10, 9, 8, 7, 6 , 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, you have the absolutely dead-on “Short Memory,” sung with absolute conviction by the imposing Peter Garrett:

Conquistador of Mexico, the Zulu and the Navaho
The Belgians in the Congo,  short memory
Plantation in Virginia, the Raj in British India
The deadline in South Africa, short memory
The story of El Salvador, the silence of Hiroshima

Destruction of Cambodia, short memory…

In the 1983 footage of a Sydney concert where the Oils perform “Short Memory,” it is interspersed with images of atomic bombs, injured war victims, missiles and the tools of war. In fact, the song was used in the Australian anti-nuclear war film One Night Stand, from 1984, when four teenagers in the Sydney Opera House are stunned when they hear nuclear war has broken out. This was in the wake of the American film The Day After, in 1983, and around the same time the horrifying British docudrama Threads came out.

Thirty years later and, yes, our memories are short. Warhawk neocons in the Obama administration and in Congress are begging for a fight with the Russian bear, and the bear just laughs. We try to tell Russia to back off on the Crimea – which wants to rejoin Russia – and they laugh some more. Who is Uncle Sam to tell us to not interfere? All they do is interfere. That is what keeps the U.S. going … Next? Venezuela. Syria ... on and on ... short memory, indeed!

We need Midnight Oil! We need a new crop of socially-conscious musicians banding together, through their art, calling for an end to all this warmongering and madness. Everyone is sick of it!

In the meantime, there is a new film coming out in June – a TNT series called The Last Ship, which we first mentioned here. It is about a Navy ship, out at sea, looking to save humanity after a pandemic kills off 80-percent of the world’s population.

After five years of zombie films, America is primed for The Last Ship, sailing off into the sunset.

**A postscript to this post. Within two hours of posting this, I was drawn to two music videos - quite synchromystically, it would appear. The first was Midnight Oil's 1990 video for the single "Blue Sky Mine." This powerful video addresses the illnesses suffered by miners at the Wittenoom Asbestos Mine in Western Australia. The second one, was ... and I get a chill thinking about it - the 1983 video for David Bowie's "Let's Dance." This was Bowie's danceable hit that included footage filmed in Australia of an aboriginal couple fighting Western imperialism and racism. There are scenes of Sydney and the famous harbor, as well as a scene where the aboriginies look towards a mountain range and see a nuclear bomb detonation. In light of Red Sails in the Sunset's themes, it is curious I sought this one out.

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Andrew W. Griffin

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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