Men At Work: Down Under Meaning
Song Released: 1981
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Down Under Lyrics
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?...
anonymous Aug 13th, 2010 8:09am report
Oh I forgot Can't you hear, can't you hear the thunder?
You better run, you better take cover." God's voice.
anonymous Jul 27th, 2010 7:03am report
Having reviewed the video clip, he and his colleagues are definitely on the nod in Bombay. The den operator is either asking to him to buy or sell clothes, in the clip it is a shoe. Hasn't everyone gone to opium den in their youth and ended up selling all the belonging including their clothes before legging it home broken and sick?? lol.
anonymous Jul 27th, 2010 7:42am report
The whole trip he is wasted. I believe he has used opium in the third verse. He is "slack jawed and nothing much to say" implies to me that he is on the "nod". A common after effect of the use of heroine or as in this case smoking opium.
anonymous Apr 30th, 2010 4:21pm report
Anon..damn, relax. and remember, every time USA goes somewhere, the Aussies are right there, side by side. yeah. and the viet nam thing? hate the french too? they started there before the usa was ever there. read up.
anonymous Apr 16th, 2010 4:16pm report
I do believe that all the interpreted words mean certain things; like combie (minivan)and zombie (pot)and this whole song is about an Aussie guy who travels and meets all kinds of people, just to tell a "story" but the one thing (if you read what the writer Colin Hay said about the song)it's all about celebrating Australia and being Australian and what Australia once was and is now. Everyone he meets knows this guy is Australian by his accent and they ask "do you come from the Land Down Under?" and everyone he meets he ultimately says "I'm Australian, our people are great and the country is so awesome, can you hear the "thunder"!!! If you want to look into it sexually or drug-wise is up to you; everyone is going to have a different interpretation; but i choose to see the real meaning like Colin Hay about ultimately celebrating how great Australia and the people are!!!
anonymous Aug 6th, 2009 8:56am report
I would say that the reference about thunder could be the police. Thunder could be the sound of cars, camels, horses or whatever the police are using. They are warned about the police, so "you better run, you better take cover"
anonymous Jul 30th, 2009 7:54am report
This song is more political than anyone has stated.
It was written at a time in Australia's social conscience when impact of the 'new world' on the native Aboriginals (Abos) came to the fore. During this time there was (and continues to be) social discord about the plundering of lands from the Abos. The allusion to thunder in the song reflects the feeling of the time that a social storm was brewing and that the Abos would rise up and stake a claim to their land and the Australian identity; they did go on to do this.
Against this underlying theme is the modern Aussie cliche: young, carefree, traveller, pot-head, beer aplenty etc. The cultural references (beer, chunder, vegemite, hunky fella) are relatively modern (flimsy) cultural identifiers that contrast against the bedrock of Abo indigenous culture. The final verse in which the Aussie is being tempted and comes from the 'land of plenty' is a play on the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, whereby Eden is Australia, and modern Aussies Adam. This analogy is used to demonstrate the naivety/innocence/ignorance of the modern travelling Aussie to the nature of the world and his own country.
On its most superficial level, this is the story of a fella from Aus enjoying and experiencing his travels. It is this level that most of us hear when the song is played with its child-like happy-go-lucky melody.
anonymous Jul 6th, 2009 7:51pm report
I 100% agree with the Jamaican guy because when i travel people instantly LOVE me because im american. And lets face it EVERYBODY LOVES Americans!!!!! People are just being nice to the guy because hes Austrailian
I personally think that song simply isn't as deep as you think it is. That is simply about some hippies traveling around while using opium and drinking a lot.
Men plunder (slang for RAPE)
Thunder (slang for diarrhea, Chunder (slang for vomitting), this all because they are drunk and stoned.
Not every song is deep, most are simply rimes with nice music too it.
anonymous Jun 7th, 2009 6:27pm report
I think the song is about the rape of the aboriginal culture by the people who went to Australia who were, for the most part, British and Irish people. As the video suggests, there is nothing specifically Australian about these people or their lifestyle. They behave in a ghastly, boorish manner and have little concern for the culture they have invaded, and they take the same attitude overseas i.e. to Brussels and Bombay. The strange lady is also from a different culture but loses interest in the narrator when she realises he is Austalian. I'm sorry if Austalians find this offensive but it does seem to me (and to the Scottish writer of this song, in my opinion) that their society is an offshoot of Britain rather than anything unique or distinctive.
anonymous May 8th, 2009 5:06pm report
Kostya Tszyu was 13 in '82 when the song was released so the thunder couldn't possibly refer to him since he didn't win his first title till '86, let alone be famous.
Some research can go a long way, guys. ;)
anonymous Feb 10th, 2009 2:24pm report
One interpretation of the lines "Can't you hear the thunder/you better take cover" may involve Cold War tensions contemporary with the song's release.
The song was recorded in 1981, shortly after the USSR's invasion of Afghanistan (1979), the boycott of the Summer Olympic games (1980), and the implementation of Martial Law in Poland (1981). These were all symptoms of the growing tensions between NATO and the USSR. Brussels, Belgium was strongly tied to the NATO alliance, while Bombay, India was loosely federated with the USSR. Australia during this time was a NATO member, but had stayed relatively aloof during earlier Cold War conflicts.
The personalities the Australian meets in his wide travels all seem disconcerted about the growing global tensions, and warn our narrator of future conflict. By extension, this would include Australia if global war would have broken out.
I agree with everything the Jamaican dude said except the piece about rolling tourists. Sounds more sexual, to me (offers to get stoned and have sex), but with the last request (a dude) he turns it down.
Eurasia travel/"hippie trail"
Brussels/Bombay Opium den
People are nice/interested
He's nervous because he can't figure out why they want to give it up, but then is told the rumor... and he starts believing it...
So they feed him, prolong his high, because he's built and hung, like they've heard Aussies are.
Oh... and thunder/run for cover... come on...
That's all about the big "O"...
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