Who Can It Be Now? By Men At Work

Business As Usual

1982 | Rock

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“All I wish is to be alone, stay away, don't you invade my home. -- Best off if you hang outside, don't come in, I'll only run and hide."


  • Who Can it Be Now hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1982
  • Colin Hay is said to have written the song in a half-hour.
  • The saxophone hook on the song is the original scratch track Greg Ham recorded as a placeholder. It was moved from later in the song to the opening.


Luke Tatum

From what I've read, this song was inspired by living in an apartment with several drug dealers. Police were always knocking on doors at unusual hours. Sounds irritating, but is the present day really so different? Law enforcement has become more invasive, not less. Their methods are less obstructive of our daily lives, but privacy has only declined. Where's the outrage? Sadly, I think that most people aren't even aware of these issues, let alone upset by them. The NSA in its scattered spires of secrecy captures far more information than the police of this era could have dreamed of.

Sherry Voluntary

This great song with that unique sax riff, just sticks in your ears. It wasn't written about the surveillance state, but it fits so well, it could have been. There are so many stories right now of how much the government is using more and more mass surveillance technology, to watch the average person, or paying or pressuring companies for access to your information. Gone are the days that State agents had to get a warrant in order to look into an individuals private life. Thanks to the war on terror and the average American citizens indoctrination, The State has more power than ever to intercept your phone calls, track you flying from one place to another using facial recognition, listen in on your home conversations, perform warantless searches within 100 miles of the border, even spy on everyone in your local park with cameras, all in the name of protecting you from terrorists or drug dealers. The average American citizen is so enamored with the idea that the government is really there to help and protect them. If you asked any one of them, they would say they are concerned about a tyrannical surveillance state, but most of them actively support legislation and general attitudes that lead to that very thing.

Nicky P

Is this song just a silly story or Collin's attempt to deal with something more sinister happening globally. My entire adult life has been post 9-11 so for my generation we really don't know what it's like to have civil liberties. Every communication we've ever sent is undoubtedly catalogued somewhere, every purchase logged, and every movement noted. This process started much earlier in a lot of other parts of the world. It took crashing planes into buildings for american's to fear enough to give them up but globally this had been business as usual for decades with CC TV monitoring picking up in the 80's monitoring major cities. If I ever run into Hay I'll ask him if this is one of his political songs curled up into a pop song like it's a mistake. I suspect I know the answer. It's possible he may not even recognize the chill being a surveillance state had over his own psyche.

Created By
Nicky P