What do the lyrics of ‘Rip Rip Woodchip’mean?

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What do the lyrics of ‘Rip Rip Woodchip’mean?

By Tom

The song Rip Rip Woodchip was written in 1989 by Australian singer song writer John Williamson. The song was inspired by the pulp mills of Australia and how they were demolishing old growth and forests right across Australia. This was a problem because more and more companies were turning native forests into waste lands. So John wrote a song representing himself against the Australian Pulp Mills.


The opening line of the first verse ‘what am I gonna do - what about the future?’ implies that Williamson is worried about the future if something isn’t done. The third line ‘why shouldn’t I get emotional - the bush is sacred’ reminds the companies that this is a huge problem and anyone can show their feelings towards this issue. The last line ‘ancient life will fade away’ says that if we continue this destruction we will wipe out species of plants and animals and destroy the Australia’s native flora and fauna before British Settlers first arrived here.

The second verse starts with the lines ‘over the hill they go, killing another mountain’ this means that the companies are destroying kilometers of bush land by clearing a lot of land. The next line ‘gotta fill the quota - can’t go slow’ refers to the mills rushing the job and the ‘quota’ being the number of trees within the job which they are filling. The third and forth lines ‘huge machinery wiping out the scenery, one big swipe like a shearer’s blow’ means that the machines are getting rid of every piece of bush land. The shearer’s blow means that they are destroying regrowth by letting it grow back and then destroying it again, like a shearer removing wool.

The chorus is repetitive and sung after every second verse. It starts off ‘Rip rip woodchip turn it into paper’ describes how the paper is made and the harsh process that takes place. The ‘rip rip wood chip’ is the cutting and grinding of the trees and ‘turn it into paper’ is a literal interpretation. The next line plays into the first line with the lyrics ‘throw it in the bin, no news today’ is getting rid of the precious paper because the journalist did write a good story. The last two lines of the chorus ‘nightmare dreaming -can’t you hear the screaming? Chainsaw, eyesore - more decay’ means that Williamson has witnessed the lobbing of trees and that it gave him night mares for the future.
The third verse refers to the old and more environmental way for tree lobbing. This is described through the lyrics ‘remember the axemen knew their timber, cared about the way they brought it down, crosscut, blackbutt, tallowood and cedar, build another bungalow - pioneer town’ this means that the pioneers did not rush the job, instead they just took what they needed and moved on.

The last verse starts with the lines ‘I am the bush and I am koala, we are one - go hand in hand’, Williamson is saying that if you destroy the bush and its animals, you are destroying yourself because humans and animals depend on each other. Without animals the whole of Australia’s ecosystem would be wrecked.

“Rip Rip Wood Chip” was written in response to the Tasmanian Pulp Mill. Although there is a new Tasmanian mill being built people have thought twice and protested. This song shows the issue towards logging and how destructive it can be towards the Australian bush and its surroundings. I chose this song to study because when I first heard the song I thought more about the problem and what it represents. I hope to learn more about this problem and its affects in the near future.
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