The Silver River, by Jim Moginie

The Silver River, by Jim MoginieThe first thing to make clear is that this excellent book is not a tell-all bio of Midnight Oil.

It’s the memoir of a man whose life has been a journey of self-discovery, some of which took place as a member of one of the most successful, respected, consistent, and unabashedly Australian bands ever.

That’s not to say Midnight Oil doesn’t play a huge part in this book.

From its beginnings in the mid 70s to the final, final tour in 2022, Moginie – as guitarist, keyboard player, songwriter, and backing singer – for 50 years helped to define exactly what the band was.

What The Silver River clarifies, though, is that the band doesn’t define the man. He pays as much attention to how he found his birth family, the effect on his adopted family, and his growing awareness of his cultural and ethnic roots.

There is also much about his development as a musician, inside and outside Midnight Oil. And there’s plenty of fodder for those of us who like to know the make and model of instruments he played and how he amped them to get a particular sound.

Given Midnight Oil’s profile as an articulate, socially conscious and morally responsible band, it shouldn’t surprise that Moginie is a literate and sensitive memoirist who’s not at all tempted to sensationalise or gossip.

That doesn’t stop him recounting some very funny and surprising anecdotes about the band, its members and the Australian music scene, though.

I don’t suppose any real fan of Midnight Oil would expect this to be a kiss-and-tell exercise – this is a band whose lead singer became a federal politician, after all.

Moginie does, however, open up about his personal relationships with the people he loves, the music he makes, and the country he lives in – both countries, in fact.

I found The Silver River to be an emotional, insightful, and ultimately very rewarding read.

Highly recommended

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