Listening: Men at Work’s Overkill

I’m kind of ashamed that I’m starting off my favorite song series with Men at Work.  I like Men at Work, but they are not The Cure, The Replacements, R.E.M. much less the Stones or the Beatles.  Yet, this song has always been kind of a personal anthem for me.

In the 90s I remember having one of my sleepless nights.  I was stressing over something.  I always stress over something.  I have social anxiety disorder and am prone to panic attacks.  I just remember being at low point when a band I never heard of before, nor ever again actually, came on MTV.

In fact, I never checked on Lazlo Bane till it was time to write this.  (Wow, they did the Scrubs theme song…Who knew?).  The cover is good, but it becomes great when Collin Hay joins in.  At first, I thought he was just making a cameo in the video, but then it comes to the last verse and he just belts it out.

The lyrics are simple and to the point.  It’s simply about a person who cannot stop thinking about something until it gets the best of them.  Anyone with anxiety understands this.  Anyone with stress understands this.  The Lazlo Bane version is your typical 90s grunge treatment.  The notable part of is Hay’s verse which he tries to match the music with as much force.

The original is better.  And for the record I’m not an original is always better kind of guy.  The Replacement’s Black Diamond destroys the original version.  There is just more weakness and fear in Hay’s voice in the original.  In the Bane version, when he sings “it’s just overkill” he sings it as if he knows it’s will be alright.  In the original, it sounds as if he is trying to convince himself. It’s the music, particularly the saxophone that is more convincing that it will be ok.

That’s the thing about anxiety disorders.  No matter how rationally you approach the problem, you always think that the fears will win.

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