Music Wednesday: Aboriginal Australia–When Old Sounds Entirely New
Stop what you’re doing immediately and watch this.
Have you yet? It’s great, right? Probably the best music video I’ve seen all year (second, maybe, to "Hi Hater"). It's the Aboriginal creation story of the Crow, sung by Tom Lewis, filmed in Arnhem Land, in the Northern Territory of Australia. I love the weird, 1980s, U2-ish singing-in-the-clouds feel; the traditional dance mixed with breakdance pops (and locks); the grungy-kickdrum-guitar and the wailing voice. And, get this: this song is one of the oldest bits of human culture on the planet.
Warrk Warrk, or Black Crow, is a creation myth. It’s pre-historic, dating from not terribly long after nomads arrived and settled in continental Australia, some 50,000 years ago. You can read a telling of it here, but it’s a bit confusing. In aboriginal religion, concepts of time and landscape are entirely different from our own—the Dreaming beings that proceeded aboriginal existence offer a blueprint, and the stories they tell, the songs they sing, pay homage to that legacy. Moreover, the songlines literally usher the landscape and its plants and animals into existence. Bruce Chatwin’s book Songlines is about this, and many other things.
Music Wednesday is Assistant Editor Ryan Bradley's weekly exploration of great global music, in collaboration with Nat Geo Music.
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