Belonging – related text for Rainbow’s End


The Warumpi Band

The song, My Island Home, was written by Neil Murray in 1985 and recorded in 1986. According to Wikipedia, Neil had been living in the deserts of Central Australia for six years, away from the fresh water country of his youth in western Victoria. The Warumpi Band had just completed a national tour and, at the end, Neil spent a week with singer George Rrurrambu at his home at Galiwinku (Elcho Island) in Arnhem Land. they were camped on a remote part of the island – living like kings on bush tucker and seafood.

The music video demo from My Bush album was released in 1988. There are several techniques used in this multimodal text that allow for a detailed analysis as related material for Jane Harrison’s Rainbow’s End. These points are based on my recent presentation for the ETA HSC Student Study Day.

togetherness in isolation

  • title heralds a strong sense of connection to place – suggest ownership and pride
  • opening sequence establishes importance of ocean and island – sound and visual – final sequence refocuses importance of ocean
  • waves on sand symbolise washing or cleansing energy of water – consider the different uses and effects of water / rain in Rainbow’s End
  • steel guitar accompanies opening shots – identifies country music genre – mournful sense of loss evokes the wide spaces of Australian landscape
  • band performs in the setting of an empty room – together yet isolated – reinforces dislocation from home
  • first person lyric offers an intense perspective highlighted through the use of close up shots of lead singer
  • lyric “every night I dream of the sea” suggests yearning – links to Rainbow’s End  dream sequence of ideal contrasted with reality – “I close my eyes” – aspirational hopes of Gladys as she dreams of her home with running water, described in stage directions as ‘blue jewels’ (Act 1 Sc 7)

fading between reality and hopes

  • fades between band performing and panning shots of landscape highlight dreamy nature
  • rhetorical question “Will this place ever satisfy me?” encourages viewer to think about their own place of belonging
  • sharp contrast between images of inland desert and coastal island

harmony between all Australians

  • vocal harmonies during chorus are conveyed through mid shots of black and white band members
  • our ability to achieve reconciliation symbolically shown in the close up of black and white hands playing the keyboard

symbolic reconciliation

  • Repetition of first verse with quickened music suggests joy when band is enjoying island – we understand their sense of belonging to both place and group

joyful belonging

  • consider the context of this music video – the 1980s – a decade of intense focus on Australian history in the lead up to our bicentenary in 1988. Issues of white colonisation or invasion were debated with strong emotion.
  • Harrison’s 1950s context for Rainbow’s End and the 21st century context for the audience encourages us to consider our part in promoting reconciliation for white and Aboriginal Australians

let's look toward a positive future

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