Blue Sky Mine

Album: Blue Sky Mining (1990)
Charted: 66 47
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  • The song refers to the Wittenoom asbestos mine in Western Australia where blue asbestos was mined between 1947 and 1966. The once-thriving town is now a virtual ghost town. Shops are boarded up, the two schools are closed, the local cinema is derelict. In their ignorance, the original settlers used asbestos in gardens, school yards and roads. Wittenoom is without doubt Australia's greatest industrial disaster and it is estimated that 25% of the 20,000 men who mined asbestos there will die from related diseases. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Darryl - Kitchener, Canada
  • The music came out of an idea Jim Moginie (the band's guitarist/keyboardist) had when he was 15, but the song went through a huge transition in the studio. The album's producer, Warne Livesey, told Blurt Magazine: "That song actually started out as a different song. After we had started the song it felt a little lacking and I came up with the idea of giving it more of a Motown feel. We started working on the Vox organ riff and then Martin [Rotsey, guitarist] came up with the echo guitar part and the guys wrote a new chorus inspired by that. It was a more convoluted process but it worked out well."
  • In the midst of their Blue Sky Mining tour, Midnight Oil stopped in New York City to stage a protest outside the Exxon Oil building in Manhattan to hold the company accountable for the devastating Exxon Valdez oil spill that occurred in Alaska the year before. During the eight-song set - including "Blue Sky Mine" and a cover of John Lennon's "Instant Karma" - Oils vocalist Peter Garrett stated, "We can't treat the world like a garbage dump, and there's more to life than profit and loss."

Comments: 11

  • Carl from PerthMy father contracted mesothelioma from working at Wittenoom in the 50's, he told me that they knew of the health impacts but kept it quiet. Bastards have short changed my father's life for greed. No return from the blue sky mining company, it angers me that these men were sent to a future death sentence.
  • Rnmorton from West Chester PaAwesome song, my favorite of Midnight Oil's work. I had no idea what it was about until recently but always enjoyed it, it had such drive.
  • Jonnyeclectic from WannerooIf you look closely, Graeme "Grayballs" Green can be seen carrying the bands equipment off a train in the filmclip. Midnight Oil's frontman, Peter Garrett, remarked "Green is an Aussie legend that shines brighter than any gem", a reference to Green's opal prospecting days in Coober Pedy where the clip was shot.
  • Esteban Erik Stipnieks from UnicoIf you look at the head stone in the video Freeze it at 1:42 you see the place of birth Yugoslavia on the Facebook page for the band they indicate that this was a Deliberate choice on their part since many immigrants to Australia who had been Displaced Persons were given the choice to work the mine as part of becoming permanent Australian residents. I liked the song but did not realize the significance of it till I visited my late Uncle Gints Stipnieks (he is mentioned in a book about the former chief of Australia's national library!) and my Uncle pointed out he was given a choice between working the Blue Sky Mine or being a lumber jack. He chose to be a lumberjack. Midnight Oil needs to be saluted for high lighting in the video the other part of the tradgedy.
  • Leo from Westminster 1, MdDefinitely and Defiant! Blue Sky Mining is nothing less than an absolute horror story about the tragedy of Wittenoom
    -a dark moment in Australia's history. In the title song to their best album, Midnight Oil speak out again environmental rape. The tragedy of Wittenoom is such that Aussie rock scribe Toby Creswell called Wittenoom "One of the greatest and most despicable acts of corporate bastardry the 20th Century had ever seen or witnessed. In this shocker of an Oils rocker, Peter Garret screams and writes in an Aussie rage "Who's gonna save me?" Peter gets the sad news that asbestos has claimed the lives
    of the miners. Peter takes action. So he takes the mining company to Aussie Court. Across the Outback back east to Canberra, the Desert Mine is found guilty of murder by asbestos. In Parliament at Canberra, Peter wins his case and he rages in his thick Brit-Aussie Voice as he wails the Harp "Never Again! The Case Is Closed! You Will Pay for What You've Done!
  • Phoenix from Warrnambool, AustraliaChina Jim, The song is about how a huge Australian Company screwed over it's worker's by not telling them of the danger's of asbestos and until resently took no responsability for their actions. This company owned the Asbestos mines "and" the australian sugar refineries. Cold Chisel's song Taipan - "C.S.R is the sugar-cane king"
  • Marcos from Orlando, FlIn America, a similar environmental disaster happened in Libby-Montana, where hundreds of residents have died from Asbestos-related diseases due to the mining operations in the Zonolite company (later acquired by W.R. Grace). A great book by Andrew Schneider and David McCumber, named "An Air That Kills", tells the whole story.
  • Dave from Sydney, AustraliaThis song has beautiful melodic verse and chorus and is sung with such power and emotion its almost scary!
  • Max from Karratha, AustraliaApparently, Blue Sky Mining was based on a book called Blue Murder, written by a sufferer of asbestos illness. Even today, the people incharge of the company and the mine are holding back compensation and support for the miners who are suffering from the blue asbestos. Hence the lines "The balance sheet is breaking up the sky" (the company is making a huge profit) while the miners are "caught at the junction, still waiting for medicine".

    I've lived up north in the Pilbara all my life. I've traveled all over Australia, and very few places match the areas beauty.
  • Jim from Qinhuangdao, ChinaI always thought this was a song of profound sadness. The narrator sounds like he's completely helpless to save himself. "And if the Blue Sky Mining Company won't come to my rescue/ And if the sugar refining company won't save me/ Who's gonna save me" Those two places are the last two places he'll get help.
  • Frank from Western Australia, WaIndeed this song is about Wittenoom. Situated now as a ghost town, or perhaps a town torn down, it is surrounded by the most beautiful country on earth but has the most horrible past. Many Australians still die from asbestosis from working these mines. Cool waterholes amongst a spectacular rocky country, spinifex and aboriginal rock carvings, kangaroos tamed by tourists...........Time stands still******
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