Jailangaru Pakarnu
October 11, 2013 9:59 PM   Subscribe

Jailangaru Pakarnu was the first song to hit the popular music charts sung in an Australian Aboriginal language, released by Warumpi Band in 1983.

Jailangaru Pakarnu means "Out from Jail" in the Luritja language, and the rest of Warumpi Band's songs followed similar country-rock musical and lyrical themes documenting life in the Northern Territory and elsewhere through the 1980s and 90s. Consisting mainly of lead singer and didgeridoo player George Burarrwanga, a Yolngu man; brothers Gordon Butcher Tjapanangka and Sammy Butcher Tjapanangka, Luritja men; and Neil Murray, a whitefella from Victoria; the group disbanded in 2000.

Blackfella, Whitefella
Sit Down Money
No Fear
Tjiluru Tjiluru (Sad & Lonely)
Yolngu Boy

Their most popular and well known song is My Island Home, which has become an unofficial anthem for many Australians.
posted by goo (8 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
This doco on George is available for one more day on ABCs iview. You just reminded me I haven't watched it yet. Thank you!
posted by Trivia Newton John at 10:05 PM on October 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

So, in 1983, while the rest of the world was listening to Men at Work's "Down Under", Australia was getting introduced to a different kind of Australian music. Cool.
posted by oneswellfoop at 10:24 PM on October 11, 2013

Thanks Trivia Newton John, that's great timing! I can't view it here in the UK but I'll see what I can do through a proxy as I think it'd be a really interesting story. Obviously My Island Home is written from George's perspective ("six years in the desert, but I come from across the sea" - although it was actually written by Neil after visiting Elcho Island) and man it resonates with me as a periodically very homesick Australian.

And yes, oneswellfoop, you're right! There had been popular indigenous singers prior to Warumpi (Jimmy Little, etc) but they were certainly the first Aboriginal band I was aware of.
posted by goo at 10:52 PM on October 11, 2013

Your timing was impeccable. I didn't realise what a superstar performer he was. I've pissed away an hour of precious pre exam study time to watch the doco and some live clips from Youtube. One commenter nailed it, Jagger was just the white George.
posted by Trivia Newton John at 11:09 PM on October 11, 2013

posted by obiwanwasabi at 12:49 AM on October 12, 2013

Saw these guys a few times in the early-mid 80s around Darwin. Great live band, always got the room up and dancing.

George really was a natural.
posted by Pouteria at 2:21 AM on October 12, 2013

They were definitely the first indigenous band (or even indigenous point of view represented in music culture) I was aware of. Loved Blackfella Whitefella ever since seeing it on Beatbox back in the 80s (anyone else remember Beatbox?)
posted by andraste at 4:25 AM on October 12, 2013

Late in the last century I went through a period where I spent a lot of time listening online to a radio station that broadcast from northern Australia and the Torres Strait islands. The Warumpi Band was one of my favorite groups it played regularly (along with Yothu Yindi, Christine Anu, and Archie Roach). I haven’t been able to find the station for years; I wish it still existed.
posted by LeLiLo at 11:49 PM on October 12, 2013

« Older Breakfast Can Wait   |   Faces of the American Revolution Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments