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Question for our Aussies


I was just reading the sad news regarding the death of the band member from Men At Work.

In an online article, it mentioned that there was once a lawsuit/settlement re their song Down Under being very similar to the Kookaburra song.  While I'm not in Australia, I remembered singing the song as a kid and it didn't seem remotely similar.  So I looked them up on Youtube - same thing.  It's kind of puzzling.

Are there perhaps alternate melodies for the Kookaburra song?

There's an instrumental whistle type section in "Down Under" which sounds like the kookaburra melody.  It's just the "Kookaburra sits on electric wire" sounding melody, and repeats a couple of times. "dada dada daa daa da da da da".

To be honest,  I always thought it was deliberate because it was a true Aussie thing in a song about being Aussie, KWIM?  So although I thought the lawsuit was unreasonable, I was kind of "well of course that's the kookaburra melody!" I thought it was homage, not plagiarism.  But that's not my call of course.

But yeah there's only one melody for the Kookaburra song.

Thanks to you both - okay, I listened again, and I can *sort of* pick it up in the in the whistling section.  Definitely iffy, though

I wonder if it was a frivolous lawsuit where the band figured it was more cost-effective to settle rather than fight.

It's not a very close resemlance, but it's definitely there, and as Caellach said - why shouldn't it be?

It's been considered very irritating because the original woman who wrote the song never ever recieved any royalties for its use - because she didn't charge them. Only after her death (and long after "Down Under" was released) did Larrikan music get hold of the copyright. Even then it wasn't until the late 00s that it was pointed out on a music trivia show (curse you, Spicks'n'Specks!) did anyone even NOTICE the similarity. It's one of those things that, once it's pointed out you see it, but not until then. THEN they've suddenly gone "Oh noes! They've ripped us off!"   ::)

To put this in context, during the America's cup challenge in 1983 (84?) this song was basically the national anthem. If you went a day without hearing it it would be a miracle. No-one even noticed this 'rip off' because, well, although awesome, it's not the point of the song.

The melody is similar, but not the same. And the Kookaburra song ripped it off from a Welsh folk song anyway. I hope the  vultures at Larrikin Records get their karma soon.



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