In 2012 Gurrumul made a recording of the Yothu Yindi song ‘Maralitja – Crocodile Man’.
The track was recorded spontaneously during a session in New York’s AVATAR studios (formerly The Power Station) while Gurrumul was tracking vocals for his final album, the ARIA and Australian Music Prize-winning Djarimirri (Child Of The Rainbow).
‘Maralitja’ was recorded as a tribute to fellow Yolngu Maralitja Gumatj clan member and Yothu Yindi frontman Dr M Yunupingu. The choice of song was particularly significant for Gurrumul, as he shares the identity of the saltwater crocodile with the (now departed) Dr M Yunupingu.
Michael Hohnen – Gurrumul’s long time collaborator – recalls, “we played ‘Maralitja’ for Dr M Yunupingu on headphones backstage at the ARIA awards, when the band, including Gurrumul, was inducted to the Hall Of Fame. He was very moved by Gurrumul’s gesture”.
Yothu Yindi’s version of ‘Maralitja – Crocodile Man’ appeared on the band’s breakthrough 1991 album Tribal Voice. Gurrumul was himself a member of Yothu Yindi at the time, and since then, Gurrumul has (very occasionally) performed it live as a solo artist (on one notable occasion, sharing the stage with Dr M Yunupingu to relive their time together in Yothu Yindi).Gurrumul’s version (retitled ‘Maralitja – A Tribute To Yothu Yindi’) was recorded in his well-loved acoustic format – acoustic guitar, double bass and Gurrumul’s vocals. It is a gorgeous and restrained performance, but it packs an emotional punch – much like the Yothu Yindi original.