Let Love Rule

‘And we hear the children crying and we don’t know what to do’

We might not, but he did. And I imagine it went something like this.

It was the news item one too many. It doesn’t matter if he’d heard it on the evening news or the radio. Maybe it was one he read in his daily newspaper. He’d had enough of the rise of Trump with his divisiveness; the bombing of the innocents in the hospitals and schools of Syria. Sure, they were bad, upsetting – but what really got to him was what was happening in his own country; a country he loved dearly despite all it had thrown at him, personally, in the past. Abbott, Dutton, Morrison – even Turnbull, whom he’d once had such hopes for – they all used their weasel words to give credence to their foul policies. They would one day be held to account for them; of that he had no doubt. He knew that yet another Prime Minister would have to stand up and say ‘Sorry’ for the misdeeds of his/her predecessors. It would be a fair bet, though, he wouldn’t live long enough to see that day – but he had the one apology that mattered to him the most. He found it difficult to credit that his land, once so generous to those fleeing war and persecution, could now close its welcoming doors in the name of border protection. Could incarcerate those men, women and children who made it through; incarcerate them indefinitely in tropical hell holes. Subjecting those poor souls to mental depression and self harm – our government seemed to him to be making life as intolerable as possible. Even worse, it gave them no hope of any form of a future worth living. The nation’s leaders were falling over themselves to be hairy-chested on the topic and the country had again elected the redneck redhead to spit her venom out; to again be the darling of the shock-jocks. He just shook his old head at it all, over and over.

archie-roach

Yes, it was too much. He grabbed his notepad and took to his seat out on the porch where a gentle zephyr and sun’s rays would clear his head. His abode, near Robe in South Australia, was his haven, but it would be remiss of him to become insular. Remiss not to at least try to change the minds who counted on where they were leading Australia. He’d done it before, he could do it again with the power of his words. He knew he’d be listened to.

As he sat and thought and considered what shape these words would take he also cast his mind to her, his beloved Ruby. She’d been gone now for five long years and even his words couldn’t start to tell how much she was missed. He wondered what she would have thought of these odious men, supposedly of Christian values, or so they claimed, who inflicted so much misery. She always saw the best in people – saw the best in him, too, when he was down and out in the gutter all those years before. He knew she’d be appalled as well. He owed it to her to do something about it. He knew his voice was not alone – his would be one of a number of humane compatriots doing their best to bring pressure to bear. Ruby was only 54 when she left him and, by rights, it should have been him, he reflected. He survived a stoke and losing part of his lung to cancer, but he carries on, doing what he has done so well for decades. He understood the verses he was about to scribe would need to be strong to cut through – just as another batch of lines had done so decades before when he started out on his musical journey. And his new project was centred on the nature of love. He would make what he now wrote to fit in with what had already been prepared.

archie

When he finished Archie was satisfied with the outcome. And he already had a melody to it swirling around in his head. His mate Craig, who’d produced his last CD collection, liked it when he plucked it out on guitar for him, softly crooning him the words. He gave the tune a title – and eventually, between them, Archie and the producer decided that it embraced something of what he wanted to make plain in an album devoted to love in all its forms. It was, they felt, even strong enough to be the lead in song, as well as giving it’s title to the whole; it having eleven new compositions in total.

Archie Roach knows the power that music has as a means of making people respond to a message. They will listen to ‘Let Love Rule’, just as they listened, all those years ago, when his recorded CD appeared. His 1990 debut, ‘Charcoal Lane’, had a song that made the nation sit up and take notice – ‘Took the Children Away’ – an introduction, for many for us, to what was a blot on our history. The protest song bought to the attention of the mainstream the Stolen Generation. If it’s one thing Archie knows it is that Australians, at their core, are, in the main, compassionate – even if that is not reflected by the flinty-heartedness of our government leaders.

archieroach

It was music, with Ruby’s help, that raised him up from that Gertrude Street gutter. It was music that helped him over her death and his health issues. His last release of new material, ‘Into the Bloodstream’, was a salve to his broken heart and broken body. It lifted him up and got him running again. He knew, physically, it would be a struggle to tour this new product of his – but he is, as I type, on the road doing just that. He wants us all to hear this particular message. For, as he has stated, he fears, that as a nation, ‘We are closing ourselves off and not letting people in. And not just in the sense of not letting them into the country, but not letting them into our hearts, into our minds. He feels ‘This country was built on people coming here from other countries. That’s what has made Australia what it is today.’

Archie Roach is a living national treasure. As Stan Grant comments, ‘How would anyone not open their hearts to… Archie? (He is)… a gentle soul singing with no bitterness. (He) wasn’t about politics,…(he) was about people.’

The artist Ai Weiwei, in his recent massive exhibition at the NGV, shared with Andy Warhol, fully recognised Archie’s contribution to national healing with his Lego based installation for the ‘Letgo Room’. His likeness of Archie has been donated to that gallery for posterity and is the image on the cover of ‘Let Love Go’.

letloverule

So take a trip to YouTube and have a listen – or, even better, buy the album. Archie is trying so hard to heal; to give an alternate view to that of our pathetic politicians who are anything but healers. And the final word goes to the musician. As part of his promotion for ‘Let Love Rule’, in an interview for the Weekend Australian Magazine, he was asked what keeps him going. His reply, ‘When you’re writing songs, when you sit back and think about what love is, you realise there’s no one answer to that; love is so many things. It’s how I relate to not just family and friends, but to the rest of the country and the world; that’s when I realise that, sure, I’m Aboriginal, but I’m Australian, and I realise that I actually feel and appreciate and love Australians. Basically, we’re a good people and a loving people. I grew up in a place where people had a basic respect for each other; you barracked for the underdog.’

One day, Archie, we’ll get back that core Aussie value

Let Love Rule
Oh when darkness overcomes us
And we cannot find our way
And though we keep on searching
For the light of day

And we hear the children crying
And we don’t know what to do
Gotta hold on to each other
And love will see us through

Let love rule; let it guide us through the night
That we may stay together and keep our spirits calm
Only fools will shun the morning light
Cos love’s the only thing that’ll keep us safe from harm

Oh I cover up my ears so I cannot hear
The voices of hate and the voices of fear
And I cover up my eyes so I cannot see
What’s happened to this country that used to be free

Let love rule; let it guide us through the night
That we may stay together and keep our spirits calm
Only fools will shun the morning light
Cos love’s the only thing that’ll keep us safe from harm

You know I love this country, every rock and every tree
The grasslands and the desert, the rivers and the sea
Oh you know I love the people, wherever they are from
Yes I love all the people, who call this land their home

Archie singing ‘Let Love Rule ‘ = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4TH_zlvxNIQ

Archie’s website  = http://archieroach.com.au/

1 thought on “Let Love Rule

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s