Original Sin
by INXS

Album: The Swing (1984)
Charted: 58

Songfacts®:

  • INXS was on the rise when they toured America for the first time in 1983. On that trek, they listened to a lot of music Nile Rodgers created, especially his solo album released that year, Adventures In The Land Of The Good Groove. They convinced Rodgers to produce a track on their next album called "Brand New Day," which INXS primary songwriters Andrew Farriss and Michael Hutchence had written. The band had done all their recording in their native Australia, but Rodgers had them work at Power Station Studios in New York City. The song was re-titled "Original Sin," and infused with Rodgers' signature funk. It also featured a special guest: Daryl Hall, who Rodgers brought in to bolster the vocals. It was a taste of the big time for INXS, who rose to the challenge: the song was their first #1 hit in Australia, and it made an impact in America, charting at #58.
  • In a 1986 interview, Hutchence said the song was about "kids and conditioning. Growing up. How you grow up through other people's ideas or your own."

    It was producer Nile Rodgers' idea to give the lyrics an interracial spin, though. He said: "The original lyrics were 'Dream on white boy, dream on white girl.' I said, 'Why not make it 'black boy white girl?' I come from an interracial couple. Psychologically that makes it a bigger statement."

    It was a bold move for the '80s, when many kids were still clinging to their parents' views of segregated relationships. Daring to tell a white boy and black girl to "play with fire" and "dream on, the name of love"
    got the song banned from some US radio stations.
  • Regarding the lyric, Andrew Farriss told Songfacts: "Michael realized how important it was that we had the right kind of lyrics for that song, and he came up with the idea when we were sitting on the tour bus and we were looking at kids playing in a schoolyard from different cultural backgrounds and maybe different nationalities. He was looking at them all and he said, 'We should all just be like kids.'"
  • This song opens with the lyrics, "You might know of the original sin." The biblical concept of original sin goes back to Genesis, the first book of the Bible. In chapter 3, Adam and Eve were sinless in the Garden of Eden until they succumbed to temptation and ate from the forbidden tree to attain God's knowledge. Many theologians believe man is born with the stain of original sin because of Adam's fall and, therefore, humans are inherently sinful (this is why the Catholic church ascribes to infant baptism, so original sin can be cleansed from the individual, though its effects still influence mankind). Some Christian denominations (namely Mormonism), and other religions that examine the Eden narrative, argue that Jesus Christ atoned for original sin, and children are born without guilt.

    In the context of the song, original sin is about how beliefs are passed down to children by their parents. The first step to breaking free from the chains of those ideas is daring to question them.
  • The music video, directed by Yamamoto San, was filmed in Japan and shows the group riding motorcycles through a fairground.
  • The group rerecorded this as a dance track with Rob Thomas and Cuban rapper DJ Yalediys in 2010.
  • This song enjoyed the spotlight again when the 2014 miniseries INXS: Never Tear Us Apart aired in the band's homeland, Australia. It peaked at #61 on the ARIA Singles Chart.
  • Ever wonder why you didn't see INXS at Live Aid? Australian acts had their own concert in Sydney that day as part of the relief effort, but because of the time zone differences, few outside of Australia saw it. The show was called "Oz For Africa," and INXS were the headliners, opening their set with "Original Sin."

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