Six Months In A Leaky Boat

Album: Time And Tide (1982)
Charted: 104
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Songfacts®:

  • This song is about the roughly six-month sea voyage explorers like Captain Cook made from Britain to colonize Australia and New Zealand. It was written by Split Enz leader Tim Finn, a native New Zealander who spent time in Australia. He was inspired by a book called The Tyranny Of Distance: How Distance Shaped Australia's History, written by Geoffrey Blainey and published in 1966. He lifted part of the book title for the line:

    The tyranny of distance
    Didn't stop the cavalier
    So why should it stop me
    I'll conquer and stay free
  • In the last verse, Tim Finn hints that there is more to the song than the story of a voyage:

    Shipwrecked love can be cruel
    Don't be fooled by her kind


    He hasn't discussed the lyric in detail, but his brother/bandmate Neil Finn said it became "a personal song about the breakup of a relationship."
  • This caused controversy when some assumed the song was an attack on the British invasion of the Falkland Islands. But that would be impossible because it was recorded in January 1982, months before the Falklands invasion. Still, the BBC didn't want a song about leaky boats on their airwaves at this time and banned the song during the conflict. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Luke - Adelaide, Australia
  • A piano-driven intro with called "Pioneer," composed by Eddie Rayner of Split Enz, leads into this song. On the album, "Pioneer" is listed as a separate track, running 1:32.
  • In the '70s, Split Enz had a cartoonish look, with colorful hair, white make-up, and costumes that resembled opera clowns. In the '80s, they toned down the visuals and drew more focus to the music. It was a good move: With their 1980 album True Colours they became one of the most popular acts in Australia and New Zealand, and made inroads in America and the UK with the single "I Got You."

    "Six Months In A Leaky Boat" is from their 1982 album Time And Tide, which has a nautical theme throughout. It was also a global success, but they hit rough waters and broke up two years later. Neil Finn formed an even more successful band: Crowded House, which his brother Tim later joined.
  • This song has a rather intriguing interlude in the middle where it turns into a sea shanty with whistling and an accordion.
  • Time And Tide was the first Split Enz album they made with the British producer Hugh Padgham, famous for his work with Genesis, XTC, and The Police. The recorded the song in Melbourne, Australia - the band had relocated to that country by this time.
  • The music video, directed by Chris Lofven, eschewed stage footage and babes in favor of a literal interpretation where Split Enz is sailing to New Zealand in rough waters. The group had been making videos for years, but this was the first one they made while MTV was operational (the network launched in 1981). The video did get some spins on the network, but the song didn't have much radio support and only got to #104 in America.
  • This is likely the only pop song you'll ever hear with the word "Aotearoa" in the lyric ("Aotearoa, rugged individual"). That's what the Maori people of New Zealand call that country.
  • In 2000, Tim Finn performed this with the Australian kids' entertainers The Wiggles for their home video It's a Wiggly Wiggly World!

Comments: 10

  • Kciceman from AustraliaHa ha ha Captain cook discovered the Islands of Australia and New Zealand he had nothing to do with colonisation which happened eighteen years, later in Australia and more than seventy years later for New Zealand. When it was written the time it took to go non-stop was six months. The other plausible statements is it took that long to sail during discovery, However, historically the first colonial fleet to Australia too 252 to find a safe port which is closer to nine months in a leaky boat.
  • Nick from New Zealandi believe the song is about the journey of the Englishmen who traveled to new zealand to start a new life.
  • Geoffrey J from Corowa Nsw AustraliaThis song was banned or put on a no-play list by the BBC when the Falklands War was on.
  • Adam from Chicago, IlIt is about the mutineers on the Bounty
  • Chris from San Bernardino, CaI agree with Dave from Liverpool.
  • Dave from Salt Lake City, UtI think it about a bad six month relationship
  • Russ Halley from Brisbane, AustraliaEver since I heard the story about the English sailor Donald Crowhurst who went insane after nearly cheating his way to victory in the 1969 Gold Globe around the world yacht race, I've always thought this song was about him. Any thoughts? http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-414489/Donald-Crowhurst-sea-lies.html
  • Dave from Liverpool, United KingdomI was led to believe that this song was about the original Polynesian settlers who arrived in New Zealand from the South Seas
  • Pam from Attica, NyI just watched the Wiggles/Tim Finn version today (with my kids LOL!).
    I love Split Enz!
  • Ralph from Newton, Ma39 year-old dad here says there's a seriously cool Wiggles version of this song with special guest....Tim Finn.
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