A little Archie Roach tribute
Dear ones –
I’ve been on the road for the past few days and everything’s been a blur, but I wanted to stop for a moment and honor the beautiful Archie Roach. My Australians will likely know his songs and why he meant so very much to so many. He just left us.
Archie was one of the “Stolen Generation”, Indigenous Australian kids who were seized from their families to be “assimilated” into white society. He wrote about it, tenderly, painfully, in his memoir, “Tell Me Why” (I read it when it came out a couple years ago and would highly recommend the read, especially to my Oz followers).
One of the more touching stories in the book was about how another one of my oz-heroes, the very under-appreciated songwriter Paul Kelly, pulled him up on stage, got him an audience, and produced his first record. Shone a light.
Artists helping other artists into the light is one of my favorite things, and Paul is such a stand-up human being. Always helping, always connecting.
That first show that Archie sang in front of Paul’s crowd (probably in the late 1980s…somewhere in Melbourne?) he sang “Took The Children Away” – a song I can barely hear without getting tight-throated. A single song like this – it’s like an entire sonic hospice for a tragedy that never should have happened.
Apparently the audience was so silent when he finished that he thought he had bombed. But they were just shocked and stunned into stillness.
Listen to it, for him, tonight.
It’s here on youtube and the footage is beautiful…
Here’s a little snap of me & Archie backstage, taken after seeing him play and speak several years ago at Woodford Folk Festival.
He was already weak then; struggling with his health but still out on stage, telling his story, playing his songs, battling the heat, being iconic. I was trying to put it all into fast words, because he was so tired, and I was probably failing.
The power of music, the power of sharing your spotlight, the power of teaching pain through song.
I love you, Archie, you truth-singer, you survivor. You created so many ripples of change and healing…and you never stopped emanating. Rest in power.
Sing the truth, friends. There are ears that will listen.
Floor is open for Archie-love. (And Ruby-love).