This was the first single from Men at Work's second album, Cargo. Their first album, Business As Usual, was a huge hit and helped earn them a Grammy for Best New Artist. The band quickly went from a local Australian group to a worldwide success. Lead singer Colin Hay wrote this song and explained in his Songfacts interview: "It was a song about what was happening at the time, the experience we were going through of stepping into the unknown. It's about having a fear about that, but also knowing that what was going to happen was inevitable. Leaving behind where you are and stepping into something which is out of your control to some degree. That's what it felt like at the time."
When we spoke with Colin Hay, he explained that this song could relate to a relationship with a person or a relationship with a place. He was living in St. Kilda, which is part of Melbourne, and felt he was going to leave there soon. Said Colin, "It's about leaving somewhere and leaving your comfort zone. You spend a lot of years trying to get something - fame or recognition or getting to a certain point, and then when you actually achieve it, there's always a certain amount of fear that comes with that, a sense of loss of control, because all of the sudden you're not in control of a situation any more, there's other people involved, it gets bigger and bigger with much more stress."
After Men at Work went off duty in 1986, Colin Hay embarked on a successful solo career and became a favorite among fellow songwriters who admired his craft. This song is a special one for him, as it marked the first time he thought he might make a living being a songwriter.
This song played a big part in the Season 2 opener of the TV series Scrubs, which aired in 2002. The episode, which was called "My Overkill," finds Colin Hay performing this song are various points throughout, acting as a sort of muse (although by the end, he is a corpse).
Hay got the gig after the show's star, Zach Braff, heard him perform at a Los Angeles club and brought him to the attention of the show's writer, Bill Lawrence, who became a fan and used Hay's solo song "Beautiful World" in a first season episode. Exposure on the show gave Hay, who had been dropped by his label in 1990 and was releasing albums independently, a huge boost and earned him a deal with Compass Records. He appeared again on the show in the episodes "My Hard Labor" (2007) and "My Finale: Part 2" (2009). Braff also used Hay's song "Just Don't Think I'll Ever Get Over You" in his movie Garden State.
Colin Hay recorded an acoustic version for his 2003 album Man At Work, a collection of new songs combined with stripped-down versions of Men at Work's hits.
James Wilson from Trenton, NjYet another song featured on Scrubs. Colin Hay is getting recognized as a solo performer because of that. Also a few of his songs have been on the Scrubs and Garden State soundtrack.
Tammy from San Diego, Cai loved the sequence on scrubs, it was awesome. this is such a wonderful song, either version (although the acoustic is my fave)
Vince from Salisbury, MdThe acoustic version has haunted me since the moment I heard it. It made me realize what a great song, musically and lyricly, this is.
Laura from Cork, IrelandThis song featured in the tv series Scrubs,episode "My Overkill", performing the song "Overkill", and in the episode. JD the main chracter is follwed by Colin Hay while he plays this song on an acoustic guitar. Colin is also found in the episode by playing guitar in the morge.
Madison from Norway, MeI saw Colin on tour with Ringo Starr a few years ago and his voice still sounds incredible!!
David from Deerfield Beach, FlPosted 11/27/2007. Men At Work's "Down Under" and "Who Can It Be Now" from 1982 were out & out 80's classics and worthy to be such, but I must say I consider their 1983 follow-up, "Overkill", to be my favorite by them. Actually this is one of my favorite songs of the entire 1980's. I love it's simultaneously pretty & haunting quality and its lead guitar solo. "...ghosts appear and fade away..." I always liked it.
Jim from Dayton, OhThe band "Lazlo Bane" re-worked a slower version of "Overkill" with Colin Hay guesting on vocals on the last verse in the late 90s.
Walther from San Jose, OtherIt is totally right that the acoustic version is better than the original, i've heard it a lot of times and still makes me feel a little strange inside. I like a lot the acoustic version from Scrubs Soundtrack (because there are another acoustic version from Colin 2003 album wich it is different, played with 2 guitars instead of 1).
John from Holland, PaThis song is featured prominently in an episode from the second season of the TV show "Scrubs" in which Colin Hay plays a dead guy who appears around the hospital singing an accoustic version...
Jack from Nova, DcI have heard both versions and I agree that the acoustic version is the best, although I think both rock. Colin Hay has a heavenly voice, he makes the song what it is by his voice. If you like this song, my other favorite by him is "Beautiful World" which has some powerful lyrics and great themes, and of course, Colin Hay's voice.
John from Levittown, NyOutstanding song about alienation. Hay's acoustic version is even more haunting thant the original and must be heard by anyone who likes the original
Patrick from Isanti, MnI am still a huge Men at Work fan!