Ah, Men at Work, one of those bands you can’t get out of your head if you tried. The weird lyrics alone would do it (hello “buying bread from a man in Brussels?”), but maybe there’s something more.
Men at Work is facing a lawsuit for allegedly ripping of a song we all learned to sing around the campfire when we were kids.
Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree (another song with its share of weird lyrics). Remember it? Here’s a taste from a guy who looks like he’s spent his fair share of time in front of a campfire:
Ok, so are you hearing Down Under in your head? Me neither, but publisher Larrikin Music claims the “distinctive flute riff” in Down Under comes straight out of the 1934 song written for the Australian Girl Guides (akin to our Scouts). It long ago jumped over the ocean, and I learned it as a kid on a cassette tape (yes, I’m dating myself – but it wasn’t an eight track) of campfire songs.
In fact, kids around the world sing it for concerts, plays and for the sake of getting themselves on YouTube. It’s well known enough that it’s practically in the public domain.
And the lawyers for Men at Work and their recording companies, Sony BMG Music Entertainment and EMI Songs Australia, are contending that Larrikin doesn’t even OWN the rights. That’s the argument now front and center, even though they still say the flute riff claim is laughable (no gum tree needed).
How about you be the judge?
What do you think – who better run for cover?