Still from Spinifex Gum

Tom Waits Praises Indigenous Choir’s Performance Of ‘Make It Rain’

Tom Waits has praised a rendition of his song ‘Make It Rain’ by Cairns-based choir Marliya and singer-songwriter Emma Donovan, sung in a combination of English and Yindjibarndi.

The rendition was part of Spinifex Gum, a collaboration between Felix Riebl and Ollie McGill of The Cat Empire and Marliya Choir, an all-female, all-Indigenous group from Cairns.

The performance of ‘Make It Rain’ in particular comes from a live recording at Sydney Opera House last year, which saw the choir team up with the likes of Donovan, Briggs, Peter Garrett and more. It was recently released as part of the iconic series’ continued digital programming and, as The Music noted, quickly caught the attention of the original songwriter.

“An Aboriginal choir hailing from Cairns, Queensland, Spinifex Gum performed this gorgeous rendition of “Make It Rain”, sung partly in the traditional Aboriginal Yindjibarndi language,” wrote Waits, sharing the performance last week.

In the video, Donovan talks about reinterpreting Waits’ 2004 Real Gone classic. “The song, what it means for me, I think, is a lot different to what I think Tom Waits is singing about,” she explains.

“When he does his version, there’s a lot of things, some of the lines in that song, ‘He took all my money and my best friend’. I go back to things that have been taken from us in community, taken from mob.”

Watch the Spinifex Gum version below.

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