The National have released their rendition of INXS’ classic hit, ‘Never Tear Us Apart,’ which also features on Songs For Australia — a compilation album of covers by Australian acts that will benefit the fire-stricken country’s rehabilitation efforts. Helmed by Australian folk-pop singer Julia Stone, the compilation is set for a digital and physical release on 12 March via BMG.
The Ohio indie band’s version of ‘Never Tear Us Apart’ replaces INXS’ signature staccato playing of string synths with drum programming, though the band tries to remain faithful to the original track. The guitar part comes right after the first chorus, and while the group injects horns into the love song, guitars take a front-and-center position to replace Kirk Pengilly’s original sax solo. You can check it out below.
The album, which was finalized in about two months, started out as “a feeling of sadness and helplessness,” Julia Stone told Rolling Stone. She was working with the National collaborator, performer, and producer Thomas Bartlett (Sufjan Stevens, St. Vincent) in London when the project came together.
As the fires raged, Julia Stone played her favourite track — Midnight Oil’s ‘Beds Are Burning’ — and inspiration struck. Bartlett suggested they record it the next day in search of a cathartic experience. Stone’s cover of ‘Beds Are Burning,’ which was written 33 years ago about indigenous land rights, is included in the set. She started exploring the information relating to the inattention to indigenous wisdom on land management in Australia. “Had that information not been ignored, this crisis may have been less damaging,” she says.
The National was one of a handful of international acts that jumped at the idea of contributing. Frontman Matt Berninger was the one to suggest the INXS choice, and Stone was immediately sold. “Matt came straight back to me after I presented the idea for the record,” Stone says. “He was so thrilled to have an opportunity to help.”
Proceeds from the record’s sales and streams will go to numerous organizations, including SEED, Firesticks Alliance, Landcare, Emergency Leaders for Climate Action, Wild Ark, and NSW Rural Fire Service. All proceeds given to Wild Ark goes to what’s needed on the ground. As for Emergency Leaders for Climate Action, “they are trying to do what the government should be doing,” Stone says. “They have created a bushfire summit to make plans for a future where we can do our best to avoid the repeat of such extreme damage and devastation.”