Archie Roach reflects on old days
ARCHIE ROACH has changed.
He was an angry man back in 1988 when millions of Australians were celebrating 200 years of white settlement.
As a member of the Stolen Generation, Archie wrote songs that described the despair and anger felt by indigenous Australians at the Bicentennial.
Songs like Took the Children Away particularly reflected the feeling of the year.
Now, 21 years later, Archie is embarking on a tour of the east coast to launch his new album, 1988.
It’s an album that captures some of the first recordings of a talented young indigenous songwriter, songs that were mostly recorded in 1988 and filled with raw power and emotion.
But when Pulse caught up with Archie on the eve of his Byron Bay concert, he reflected on how time had changed him, as a man and as a songwriter.
He’s not angry anymore.
“I am a lot more content with my life than I was when I wrote those songs,” Archie says.
“I’ve changed. Politically, I’m more involved in Aboriginal welfare, in our spiritual welfare and I will continue to do this. The problems Aborigines face are still present. Domestic violence, alcoholism and drug abuse are problems that need to be fixed. These are negative things but me and Ruby (Archie’s partner) like to do whatever we can to change them. We can’t rely too much on the government to turn things around. A lot of it is up to us as a people.”
Archie and Ruby do a lot to address the problems faced by Aboriginals today.
They visit Outback communities regularly while their home in South Australia has become a refuge for troubled Aboriginal youngsters now dealing with some of the problems the couple faced while growing up (Archie spent part of his early life living on the streets as an alcoholic).
But the songs he writes today reflect the changes he made.
“I have also grown and matured musically,” Archie says.
“I think I might have been a bit naive at the time. No one came and said this is how you write a song. I had no preconception of how it should be done.”
The chance to hear Archie perform the powerful songs from 1988 at his Byron Bay concert should not be passed up.
Tracks like Weeping In The Forest, Native Born and Sister Brother are sad to the soul but as beautiful as ever.
Archie will perform songs from 1988 at the Byron Bay Community and Cultural Centre Thursday night.
Tickets are $32.30. For more information call 6685 6807