The core of Split Enz were the brothers Neil (vocals) and Tim (guitar) Finn. Neil later formed Crowded House, which Tim joined for their third album. Neil and Tim have also made music together as The Finn Brothers.
Neil Finn wrote and sang lead on this song, which went to the top of the Australian, New Zealand and Canadian charts.
In the song, Finn sings about that special someone who soothes him. When she's not around though, it's not a pretty sight:
When I'm without, I stay in my room
Where do you go, I get no answer
You're always out, it gets on my nerves
Finn was clearly writing in character and employing his expert songcraft. The big chorus creates an arresting contrast with the mellow verses, which gets our attention when it chimes in:
I don't know why sometimes I get frightened
You can see my eyes, you can tell that I'm not lyin'
Note that the title is not in the chorus - it shows up only in the first line:
I got you, that's all I want
Neil Finn described in an interview on the Johnny Walker show on BBC Radio 2 how this song started off with just the title: "Tim and I were having sessions where he'd throw me a title and I'd throw him a title and we'd go off to our respective rooms and write a song. And he gave me the title 'I Got You,' and I went in and I wrote it, and I thought the verse was pretty good but I thought the chorus was only a bit average and I should change it at some point, but in fact it was never changed. It just goes to show I don't know a hit when I hear one really."
Split Enz wore makeup and outlandish costumes in the '70s, but played it straight in the '80s, a move that got them taken more seriously. "I Got You," released in December 1979 ahead of the True Colours album, ushered in this new look for them to start the decade. The song was their first major hit, and their first to get noticed outside Oceana.
The video, directed by the Australian film-maker Chris Lofven, has a clever concept, with Neil Finn singing in front of the band, which is encased in a frame on the while like a painting. This was before MTV, but many acts from Australia and New Zealand made use of the medium because there were shows that broadcast them in those countries.
To the best of our knowledge, this is the first song by a New Zealand band to chart in America. The "nz" in Split Enz is a nod to the country.