There's a song by Midnight Oil called Beds Are Burning, and the song Psycho Killer also says that "my bed's on fire".

What do those expressions mean (if they mean the same thing)?

update: Some friends suggest they're talking about drugs effects. What do you think?

closed as off-topic by Kris, MrHen, Hellion, David M, Kristina Lopez Mar 24 '14 at 18:29

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    Interpretation of song lyrics is off-topic for this site, but if you consider the entire lyric "How can we sleep while our beds are burning?" I think it makes sense as "How can you close your eyes and pretend that nothing is happening, when in fact the situation is dire?" – Kit Z. Fox Feb 10 '12 at 18:22
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    @Kith Thanks for the answer. And, just for me to understand: if I told you my friend say that expression, instead of saying I listen in the music, it wouldn't be off-topic? Really, it doesn't make sense to me that, because the expression was found in a music, it is off-topic in a English Language & Usage Q&A website. Do you agree? – Tom Brito Feb 13 '12 at 13:19
  • Interpretation of lyrics is off-topic, yes. So "What does it mean in this context; are they talking about drugs?" is off-topic because it is subjective. I agree that it is a hazy boundary in the case of your question (although we do get requests that are clearly in the song lyric category). If you directed the question specifically to "Is 'beds are burning' an idiomatic expression?" or something like that, then it is on-topic because it is asking about language and usage, even if it comes from a song. I hope that is clearer. – Kit Z. Fox Feb 13 '12 at 15:42
  • @Tom Brito: What KitFox said. Note that I would still have voted to close even if you had asked whether these are established idioms, unless you were able to cite instances other than those lyrics. – FumbleFingers Jun 19 '12 at 17:27
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    This question appears to be off-topic because it is litcrit. – Kris Mar 24 '14 at 6:54

I think "bed" refers to "home" or safety. In the Midnight Oil song, it means something like, how can we ignore what is happening when it is destroying our homes and houses? It refers to the forceable relocations - very literally, their beds were being set alight, or at least moved on.

More generally, it refers to a necessity for action, because your home - where you would relax and forget about the problems - is being destroyed or removed.


Regarding your update "Some friends suggest they're talking about drugs effects. What do you think?", that's really not applicable,.

It would make no sense for Midnight Oil to be referring to drug effects -- in fact, the song "Beds are Burning" is well-known as drawing attention to the situation with the lands of aboriginal peoples of Australia, in particular the Pintupi. A drug use mention would make little sense and would not fit with the song. But "Beds are burning" can also refer to an urgent situation, which does fit the song.

  • +1 However, please also see my comment at OP. – Kris Mar 24 '14 at 6:54

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