It's A Mistake By Men At Work


1983 | Rock

Spotify | Amazon

“Tell us commander, what do you think? -- Cause we know that you love all that power. -- Is it on then, are we on the brink? -- We wish you'd all throw in the towel.”


  • The song hit #6 on the Billboard Hot 100.
  • The band performed the song on Saturday Night Live on October 22, 1983.
  • The song muses on the position of soldiers in the 80'squestioning whether NATO and the states of the Warsaw Pact will end the Cold War in battle or nukes.


Luke Tatum

"It's a mistake." Couldn't be more simple than that, could it? No matter how much pressure comes form the warmongering deep state, the result is death, destruction, and the devastation in the lives of the survivors. I'm particularly fascinated that this idea of a core of war profiteers, chomping at the bit, craving war above all else, was around even in the cold war. "Don't try to say you're sorry; Don't say he drew his gun; They've gone and grabbed old Ronnie; He's not the only one." The state is reaching out, grabbing hold of the president (then, Ronald Reagan) and making sure he plays ball. The wars must continue. This truly perverse state of affairs is nothing new. All the outrage, all the heartbreak, all the crying for change...why hasn't that broken the cycle yet? The masterstroke of modern governments takes care of that: Democracy. "If we just elect the right people, things will change." It's a lie we've all been told, and some of us continue to tell.

Sherry Voluntary

Released in 1983, during the cold war, this jaunty song contemplates nuclear holocaust. I always love it when someone can juxtapose a serious subject with a lighthearted tune, and pull it off in a way that doesn’t seem cheesy. The fear of nuclear war dominated the 1980’s and is a prevalent theme in the arts from that time. I was 6 in 1983 and I can remember how scary it was to me. It’s one of the first things I remember talking to my Mom about, that she couldn’t give me a satisfactory answer to. “It’s no use crying after,” expresses the exact problem with nuclear exchange. The after.math is so devastating that any nuclear deployment is a mistake of epic proportions. I view it as a sort of self immolation as a protest — you may make your point, but you destroy yourself in the process.

Nicky P

I’m always extra satisfied when a killer pop song has something to say. This certainly qualifies as a killer pop song and thanks to Sherry I was tipped off to the lyrical content. Gotta love calling the warmongers on their bullshit. This song actually asks a question that i'm not sure how well we can understand today. I was too young to really remember The Cold War. In war soldiers get chewed up and while that's terrible, cold wars aren't without casualties. This song looks at the minds of young men who are wondering to what degree they have to put their lives on hold. How much living is worth it. Are they only gonna be shot or is the entire world going to end in nuclear holocaust. I'd say we can actually expand this question to the citizens of all nations. To me it smacks of holding the entirety of the world hostage. While there is some truth to the idea that as long as everyone has nukes nobody wants to start the doomsday chain reaction. I'm not sure how much faith I have in a humanity that believes some of the nonsense they do. Either way. I especially enjoy how this song that feels so playful actually takes on a bit of an exasperated tone toward it's conclusion. We're all exasperated with the war shit aren't we?

Created By
Nicky P

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