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Song Stories

“Down Under”

Men at Work | 1982

Singer Colin Hay has said this song — which has become an unofficial anthem for Australia — was a celebration of the land down under even as it was being over-developed by greedy people. Featuring Aussie slang words like "fried-out kombi," "head full of zombie" and "chunder," the song prompted a lawsuit when a publishing company said the famous flute riff plagiarized a copyrighted campfire song, "Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree." Flautist Greg Ham — who took to drugs and alcohol after the decision — died two years later at 58. "I think it had a big impact on him," Hay said.

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Song Stories

“San Francisco Mabel Joy”

Mickey Newbury | 1969

A country-folk song of epic proportions, "San Francisco Mabel Joy" tells the tale of a poor Georgia farmboy who wound up in prison after a move to the Bay Area found love turning into tragedy. First released by Mickey Newbury in 1969, it might be more familiar through covers by Waylon Jennings, Joan Baez and Kenny Rogers. "It was a five-minute song written in a two-minute world," Newbury said. "I was told it would never be cut by any artist ... I was told you could not use the term 'redneck' in a song and get it recorded."

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