Can You Hear, Can You Hear the Thunder?

by Carlton Hughes

me 80s promIt was the fall of my senior year of high school in 1981. The Big ‘80s were just beginning, and I was in love simultaneously with Pat Benatar, Lisa Whelchel (‘Blair’ from The Facts of Life TV show), and Olivia Newton-John. Happy Days and Laverne and Shirley were my go-to television programs. And a catchy little ditty on the radio caught my attention.

Down Under by Men at Work fascinated me—still does. To quote every “Rate-A-Record” participant in the history of American Bandstand, “it had a good beat and you could dance to it.” Beyond that, it chronicled adventures in the mysterious land of Australia.

Down Under CollageThe song raised so many questions. What does vegemite taste like? What is a Kombi? What did the strange lady make for breakfast? What is this land of plenty? Why do we have to run and take cover? Can’t you hear, can’t you hear the thunder?

Olivia Newton-John Wikimedia Commons (see full attribution below)

To this day, when I think of Australia, I think of the song Down Under (I also think of Olivia Newton-John and Koala bears, but I digress). It not only makes me think of that carefree teenage year in the ‘80s but also of that land so far away. I’ve never been down under, but I can experience it through music and other forms of media and entertainment.

Here are two prompts:

1. Listen to the song Down Under (see below). Write a story based on the images from the song.

2. In your memory, go back in time to your senior year of high school. What was your favorite song? Write a story, either fictional or non-fictional, based on or including that song.

Wikimedia attribution for Ms. Newton-John's photo: By Nationaal Archief, Den Haag, Rijksfotoarchief: Fotocollectie Algemeen Nederlands Fotopersbureau (ANEFO), 1945-1989 - negatiefstroken zwart/wit, nummer toegang, bestanddeelnummer 930-0132 (Nationaal Archief) [CC BY-SA 3.0 nl (], via Wikimedia Commons