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The Meaning Behind The Song: Who Can It Be Now? by Men at Work

The Meaning Behind The Song: Who Can It Be Now? by Men at Work

One of Men at Work’s most recognizable songs, “Who Can It Be Now?” topped the charts in Australia and the US when it was released in 1981. The upbeat, catchy tune tells the story of an introverted person who is afraid of social interaction. Although the song is memorable for its catchy melody and saxophone riff, there is a deeper meaning behind the lyrics.

The Lyrics

The song begins with the protagonist, who has locked himself inside his home, becoming increasingly paranoid about who might be knocking on his door. He hears a knock and wonders who it could be. The lyrics are relatable for anyone who has felt anxious about interacting with others or experienced social anxiety. The chorus repeats the question, “Who can it be now?” as the protagonist tries to remain safe in his own space.

The Inspiration

According to Colin Hay, the band’s lead singer and songwriter, “Who Can It Be Now?” was inspired by his own personal experiences with anxiety and paranoia. Growing up in Scotland, Hay often felt disconnected and out of place. He struggled to fit in with the culture and social norms around him. In an interview with USA Today, he explained that he often felt “spied on” and “persecuted” by the world around him.

The song’s lyrics reflect Hay’s own struggle with mental illness. He wrote the song as a way to cope with his feelings of isolation and fear. He wanted to write a song that others could relate to, one that would help them feel less alone.

The Saxophone Riff

One of the most memorable aspects of “Who Can It Be Now?” is the saxophone riff that punctuates the chorus. The riff was written by Greg Ham, the band’s saxophonist and keyboardist. Ham was inspired by the theme music from the TV show “The Twilight Zone,” which features a similar saxophone riff.

The saxophone riff perfectly captures the tension and paranoia of the protagonist in the song. Although it is relatively simple, the riff is instantly recognizable and has become one of the most iconic musical moments in 80s pop music.

The Impact

“Who Can It Be Now?” skyrocketed Men at Work to international fame. The song topped the charts in Australia and the US and landed the band a Grammy Award for Best New Artist in 1983.

The song’s relatable lyrics and catchy melody continue to resonate with audiences today. In a world where social anxiety and mental illness are becoming more widely discussed, “Who Can It Be Now?” is a poignant reminder that we are not alone in our struggles.

The Legacy

Although Men at Work disbanded in 1985, “Who Can It Be Now?” remains one of the band’s most enduring hits. The song has been covered by a variety of artists, including Down with Webster and The Baja Men.

In addition, the song’s legacy has been cemented in pop culture through its use in movies, TV shows, and video games. “Who Can It Be Now?” has appeared in everything from the 2009 film “The Ugly Truth” to the 2010 video game “Rock Band 3.”

The Final Word

“Who Can It Be Now?” is more than just a catchy pop song. It is a powerful reflection of the human experience, capturing the anxieties and fears that so many of us face. Through its enduring popularity, the song has become a reminder that we are not alone in our struggles. It is a tribute to the power of music, and to the ability of great artists like Men at Work to touch the hearts and souls of audiences around the world.

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