Of the many many hundreds of proposals we’ve received since 2003 for books in the 33 1/3 series, if I remember correctly only one has offered to tackle its subject in the format of epic verse. And annoyingly I can’t remember what the album in question was – but it certainly wasn’t Men at Work’s 1981 opus, Business as Usual.
There’s a poem in the current issue of the New Yorker by Julie Bruck. Here it is, reproduced without permission. (If anyone wants me to remove it, just let me know.)
MEN AT WORK
I said, “Do you speak-a my language?”
He just smiled and gave me a Vegemite sandwich.
We middle-aged sense them immediately:
four brittle pop stars sprawled across
the rigid fibreglass chairs at the airport gate.
It’s not just that they’re Australian, that gorgeous
thunk of English, the stacked electric-guitar cases
draped with black leather jackets, or their deep
tans on this Sunday night in midwinter Toronto
that holds everyone’s attention, drawn as we are,
pale filings to their pull. Even their rail-thin
lassitude attracts us, as it must Doug, the portly
Air Canada gate manager in his personalized jacket,
who arrives to greet the band, cranking hands
and cracking jokes. Doug, who must live in
Mississauga with the wife and a couple of kids,
and who insists the boys come back to play Toronto
next year, when we clutchers of boarding passes
will have abandoned our carry-ons for tickets
to a midsized arena and a resurrected band
whose lyrics never did make sense but
which are laced to a beat that won’t let go—
propelling us down the carpeted ramps
of late-night flights on feeder airlines, hips
back in charge of our strange young bodies,
now shaking down runways in rows.
Is that poem any good? I have absolutely no idea. And could somebody write a poem about Men Without Hats, too?