This is the story a song written by Kev Carmody and Paul Kelly around a campfire in 1988. What started off as a casually recorded folk number has become what Carmody calls “a kind of cultural love song”: a foundational entry in the Australian songbook.
This year’s NAIDOC Week theme is “For Our Elders”, so RN’s Rudi Bremer went to speak with Kev Carmody at his studio on Kambuwal Country to gather his recollections of From Little Things Big Things Grow as it started, the story of the Gurindji Walk Off that inspired it, and the many different iterations he’s performed and heard in the last thirty years.
Wik and South Sea Islander rapper Ziggy Ramo, Electric Fields vocalist Zaachariaha Fielding from the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands and Adelaide producer Michael Ross, and Zillmere State School Year 7 Class of 2003 student Tonii-Lee Betts join Craig Tilmouth to talk about their interpretations of the song that Carmody says “belongs to everyone now”.
From Little Things Big Things Grow, as performed by:
Kev Carmody, Paul Kelly and the Tiddas from the 1993 album Bloodlines
Paul Kelly & the Messengers from the 1991 album Comedy
Kev Carmody and Paul Kelly live at the national memorial service for Gough Whitlam, 2014
The Waifs, from the 2020 album Cannot Buy My Soul: The Songs of Kev Carmody
Electric Fields from the 2020 album Cannot Buy My Soul: The Songs of Kev Carmody
Ziggy Ramo, from the 2021 single From Little Things
Zillmere State School Year 7 Class of 2003
Paul Kelly & Jess Hitchcock live in 2019 on the album People
You also heard Kev Carmody’s song Thou Shalt Not Steal from the 1988 album Pillars of Society, and the opening of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 (‘Choral’), performed by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and Wilhelm Furtwängler.