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It was sad and moving to read in the Tennant and District Times (Vol.33 No. 26 23 July 2010 p.8), of the tribute concert for the Alekarenge/Ali Curung singer and songmaker, B. Murphy of Band Nomadic, who recently died in Adelaide. Too young. Their most recent album Freedom Road [1] has been shortlisted for the 2010 Indigenous Music Awards. Too late.

The songs on the web are in English and Warlpiri, but apparently Murphy wrote in Kaytetye and Alyawarr as well. You can hear Freedom Road, Stolen Generations, Mungamunga (I think this is Munga Munda, i.e. Mangkamarnda, old Phillip Creek Mission), Kurdu, In and out of prison, Love will never die, and Jiparunpa on the Freedom Road album site here. You can hear Kurdu, Drink-Drive and Freedom Road on the Winanjjikari podcast site here. On Band Nomadic's MySpace page are Munga Munda (with Warlpiri lyrics), and LarnirliLu Parngka Jarlngk (about first contact - spelling is haywire, but it is wonderful that so much Warlpiri language could survive the onslaught of more than fifty years of monolingual English education at Ali Curung school).

In an interview, Murphy says he started the band with a couple of blokes he met in gaol. 'Freedom road' makes most painfully clear the ricochet between gaol and freedom, between exile and homeland, between family and grog, between doing right and going wrong, between fleeting delight and the bleak assurance that you will lose everything that matters. The only 'baby' in these songs is 'run baby run/they're comin to get you baby' in the 'Stolen Generations 'song. The last song on the website of Freedom Road, Jiparunpa (Jiparanpa) is a fusion of Murphy's modern vocals with women singing traditional songs (cf Myf's post), probably linked to the remote place Jiparanpa. Jiparanpa is the traditional country of some Warlpiri living at Ali Curung. It's too far to get to, and has become the homeland of dreams, of imagination, of the golden past and the unattainable future; it's the end of the freedom road.

Travel safely, travel lightly, wiyarrpa.


Beautiful post, Jane. Thank you.

I just stumbled onto this site. Your lovely post inspired me to go and have a good listen to "Freedom Road". And I have to say it really has a strong Australian feel that I wasn't expecting. Almost "I come from a land down under" type of arrangement. Anyway I enjoyed it. Thanks for posting.

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