Apr 272020

Do you like band music from a land down under!? If so, here is a song for you all, which is still played in many cars to enjoy old hit singles. This post is regarding a song from Men at Work band recorded first in 1981. Let us learn more about the composers, singers, and lyrics!

Australian rock band Men at Work was a popular band during the initial months of 1980’s, blew away all the earlier records for hit singles from all over the Australia. Down under is an Australian song also known as The Land Down Under and was recorded by Australian rock band Men At Work.

The lyrics mentioned down here are from the most well-known version released officially in 1981 but there was an earlier version released in 1980 as the B-side to their first local single titled “Keypunch Operator”. This version was released just before the band, Men at Work signed with Columbia Records. Both the versions were written and composed by the co-founders, Ron Strykert and Colin Hay. Both the versions of ‘Down Under’ gives the same feel but there is a slight difference in the earlier version in regards to the tempo and arrangement of words. Later in 1981 the song ‘Down Under’ was released officially in Columbia in 1981 as the third single from their debut album Business as Usual.

Eventually the song became a huge hit and stood as number one hit in the home country, Australia in 1981 and in 1982 the song topped the New Zealand Charts in February and in the same year the song topped the Canadian Charts in October. Later in United States, the song ‘Down Under’ on Billiboard Hot 100 at position 79 on November 6 as a debut and reached to position 1 in January 1983. On Billiboard, the song Down Under ranked at number 4 in 1983. Eventually over two million copies were sold out at one point of time in US alone. And in UK, the song topped the list of hit singles charts in January and February in 1983. Down Under is the only Men at Work song to make UK Top 20. Denmark, Switzerland, and Ireland are the three countries in which Down Under song ranked number one. In addition, it was a huge hit and topped at tenth position in many countries and was the theme song of the winning Aussie team in the America’s Cup 1983 yacht race. In 2018, Down Under ranked number 2 in Triple M’s “Ozzest 100”.

Over period, the ‘most Australian’ songs of all time, ‘Down Under’ is considered as the patriotic song in Australia and often played at sporting events. Also we can hear the song played by Men at Work in the concluding acclaims of the movie “Crocodile Dundee” in Los Angeles as well as at the 2000 Sydney Olympics closing ceremony.

Travelling in a fried-out Kombi,

On a hippie trail, head full of zombie,

I met a strange lady, she made me nervous,

She took me in and gave me breakfast,

And she said . . .

“Do you come from a land down under?

Where women glow and men plunder,

Can’t you hear, can’t you hear the thunder,

You better run, you better take cover.”

Buying bread from a man in Brussels,

He was six-foot four and full of muscles,

I said “Do you speak my language?”

He just smiled and gave me a Vegemite sandwich,

And he said . . .

“I come from a land down under,

Where beer does flow and men chunder,

Can’t you hear, can’t you hear the thunder,

You better run, you better take cover.”

Lying in a den in Bombay,

With a slack jaw and not much to say,

Said to the man “Are you trying to tempt me?

Because I come from the land of plenty?”

And he said . . .

“Oh! Do you come from a land down under?

Where women glow and men plunder,

Can’t you hear, can’t you hear the thunder,

You better run, you better take cover.”

What exactly the lyrics tell?

Regarding to Song facts and about the overall meaning of the lyrics, Hay remarked:

“The chorus is really about the selling of Australia in many ways, the overdevelopment of the country. It was a song about the loss of spirit in that country. It’s really about the plundering of the country by greedy people. It is ultimately about celebrating the country, but not in a nationalistic way and not in a flag-waving sense. It’s really more than that.”

Hay also added that the lyrics were partly inspired from a character Barrie McKenzie, a comically stereotypical Australian who tours abroad.

The lyrics in Australian slang song written by Colin Hay and Ron Strykert give a picture of casual experiences faced by a man who travels across the world and meets people who are interested about his own home country, Australia.  

What the words mean

Fried-out ~ overheated

Kombi ~ VW combination van

Chunder ~ vomit

Copyright lawsuit

Men at Work rock band was sued many times for copyright infringement in the years 2007, 2009, 2010, etc. The high court passed a judgement of paying 5% of royalties to the owner Larrikin Music starting from 2002 by Colin Hay and Ron Strykert band since a part of ‘Down Under’ copied a significant part of Kookaburra song.

Watch Australia’s most popular song, Down Under on YouTube: Click here

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