by Peter Kearney

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Click on the large black arrow to play.

Sadly, this song is still topical, as we continue to hear of 'black deaths in custody' and disproportionately high rates of incarceration of Aboriginal people.

The audio here is previously unheard and unpublished. It was recorded during a concert I gave with the Crossover group at the Tom Mann Theatre in Sydney. I much prefer this version to the original studio recording included on 'The Year of God’s Favour?'. Applause has been edited out at conclusion.

'The Deaths Go On' won the Declan Affley Memorial Award for best new song at the 22nd National Folk Festival.


Eddy Murray was drinking the night into day
The police picked him up and they took him away.
Just one hour later he was dead in his cell
He took his own life - so police records tell.
And he's gone, gone, gone - he's gone from this valley of tears
And the deaths go on, the dying of two hundred years.

And how must it feel to be black in this land
When all of the power is in the white hand
And the hand can suddenly turn to a fist?
When you're no one and nothing you'll hardly be missed
When you're gone, gone, gone and even your name disappears
And the deaths go on, the dying of two hundred years.

Robert Walker was lowered and beaten in hell,
In Broome, Dixon Green `dropped dead' in his cell,
John Pat, in Roeburne, was kicked to the ground -
They cleaned up his body, then the doctor came round.
And he's gone, gone, gone and a people is living in fear
And the deaths go on, the dying of two hundred years.

The Coroner spoke from his smooth white face:
"Death by misadventure" - the usual case.
Charlie Michael was bent like a bow on the floor
Till his heart just snapped, couldn't take any more
And he's gone, gone, gone - may God wipe away all his tears
And the deaths go on, the dying of two hundred years.

For the two hundred years since we came to this shore
The blacks have been losing an undeclared war.
One percent of the free, they're low on the scale
But twenty percent of the ones in the jails.
And the deaths go on and a people is living in fear
And the deaths go on, the dying of two hundred years.
And the deaths go on, God's crying but who wants to hear?
It goes on and on and on, the dying of two hundred years.

Words & music by Peter Kearney


released September 21, 2019
Recorded 1991 at the Tom Mann Theatre, Sydney.
Lead vocal and guitar: Peter Kearney
Female vocals: Claire Parkhill and Helen Archer
Electric violin: Lindsay Martin
Bass: Max Burgess
The group was known as Peter Kearney + Crossover

Originally published in THE YEAR OF GOD'S FAVOUR? album (1988)

The Year of God's Favour? Custom-CD aradium.com/3drdy
The Year of God's Favour? Music Book aradium.com/5lysd
The Deaths Go On - PDF Music: newcart.website/24adc

COPYRIGHT © 1988 Peter Kearney.
This song is registered with One License, APRA and AMCOS.
Church and school licences through 'One License'.
E: info@onelicense.net

SEE ALL SONGS posted so far: peterkearney.bandcamp.com

The young Aboriginal woman in the cover photo for The Year of God's Favour? was Patricia (Pattie) Newman. She died tragically young, aged only 27.

The colour photo on the track image is from the Tom Mann Theatre concert where this song was recorded. The three banners in the background were designed by Dorothy Woodward.

A larger version of this photo can be seen here:

Sadly, this song needs to be heard / played / acted upon. Thank you. (Anne)
A truly affecting, important, meaningful and presently significant song. (Cathy)
Thanks for posting this one - a powerful song. (Gordon)


all rights reserved



Peter Kearney Mittagong, Australia

Peter Kearney is an Australian songwriter and singer. His early folk-hymns 'Fill My House' & 'The Beatitudes' are internationally known. He has written many other songs of justice and peace, songs for children, and a musical-narrative on St. Francis of Assisi. His published recordings include 153 original songs.

LINKS BELOW are for Peter's:
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