Midnight Oil

[Powderworks] Bash...meaning of an emasculated Milky Way

Tom Davies tdav@wam.umd.edu
Tue, 22 Oct 2002 18:00:32 -0400 (EDT)

My two cents on the emasculated Milky Way: I agree with what's already
been said concerning the intended meaning of the lyric, but I do think
it's a somewhat awkward mixed metaphor. If a student of mine had written
it, I would have suggested they revise it. Mixed metaphors, as George
Orwell argued, tend to signal that the writer isn't really paying
attention to what s/he is saying. I do think it's a bit more acceptable as
a rock lyric than it would be in any other context, though -- the word
"emasculated" has the right sound and rhythm for a harsh, jagged song like
Concrete, and it also echoes the theme of powerlessness in the song.

On Return to Sender, which someone said is erotic: I don't really see
that angle. Perhaps if I were female or gay, I'd react differently to
Peter Garrett telling me to "hold me... control me." But being who I am, I
think of it rather as being spoken to God, to whom the speaker wants to in
some sense "return." I hear the whole song as an expression of a certain
kind of wishful thinking -- the desire to go back to a time/place where
everything was safe and unified and simple -- like Eden before the Fall,
or a time before birth when (as some believe) one's soul is united with,
or in the presence of, God. And I can certainly identify with that
desire. The song brings up a sort of mellowness and at the same time
melancholy in me -- it makes me want something I can't have, but it lets
me imagine having it. This desire doesn't have to be conceived of in
religious/spiritual terms -- it could be the desire to go back to the
womb, or to an idyllic moment in childhood, or to the arms of a lover --
so it certainly can be erotic. 

peace and love,


p.s. Around here (DC), Milky Ways don't have peanuts -- that's
Snickers. An emasculated Milky Way would probably have the nougat-like
substance but not the caramel; essentially it would be a Three Musketeers.