Many of us can link a certain album to pivotal moments in our lives. Whether it’s the first record you bought with your own money, the chord you first learnt to play on guitar, the song that soundtracked your first kiss, the album that got you those awkward and painful pubescent years or the one that set off light bulbs in your brain and inspired you to take a big leap of faith into the unknown – music is often the catalyst for change in our lives and can even help shape who we become.
In this Love Letter To A Record series, Music Feeds asks artists to reflect on their relationship with music and share with us stories about the effect music has had on their lives.
Mitch Tambo – Yothu Yindi, Tribal Voice(1991)
The year I first really got into Yothu Yindi beyond ‘Treaty’ was such an incredible moment for myself as a young person. I was just starting to really dive into my own culture and was more or less a sponge when it came to gaining a deeper understanding of my own identity as an Aboriginal person.
I will never forget being in the back of my mum’s car in an IGA carpark in my school uniform with my Discman and a brand-new copy of Tribal Voice which I had just purchased from a Sanity record store. I was skipping through the songs and got to a remix version of a track that is really familiar to most Yothu Yindi fans titled ‘Djapana’.
When it got to the part in the song where it just broke into the epic corroboree section my spirit felt like a wildfire had just broken out. I kept scrolling back and forward to that part over and over again, turning the music up full volume, shutting my eyes and just letting it take me away.
I remember for months scanning shops and the town library looking for more Yothu Yindi CDs. Each time I came across one I’d look eagerly for their traditional songs as it would just blow me away hearing them. Most importantly I loved being able to ‘feel’ what they were putting out as I couldn’t understand any of the language.
Tribal Voice helped me escape, empowered me to be proud and helped the fire inside my spirit grow. It helped make me feel nourished at times when I felt like an outsider due to my physical appearance as I didn’t fit the stereotypical mould of what an Aboriginal man looks like. There were many times as a young fella where I would just lie awake for hours letting Yothu Yindi’s beautiful language, culture and spirit take me on a magical journey.
Along the way, I took a real interest in a song called ‘World Turning’ along with many other of the group’s songs which I found to be very thought-provoking and still very relevant today.
Nowadays when it comes to Yothu Yindi I absolutely love their song ‘Tears For Lore’ as it reminds me to a degree of going back home to country and the feeling I get when I head out bush.
I love the lyrics – “Driving down the dusty road, four-wheel drive locked all the way, destination Dhanayangala passing families on the way, tonight we’ll be sitting around talking till the campfire dies feeling the evening breeze eating the catch of the day”. I just love the simplicity of the words and how they resonate with me just like many of their songs.
On reflection, I feel so blessed to have encountered Yothu Yindi’s music at such a beautiful time where I was just starting to learn my own story. It was vital to be nurtured culturally not only by my own family but by my amazing Gomeroi/Gamilaraay community in Tamworth and beyond.
I would like to acknowledge everyone that has played a pivotal role in my journey then and now. You will never be forgotten, and you are all in my heart every time I take to the stage. I love you all.
Listen to Mitch Tambo’s latest single ‘Dreamtime Princess’, here.