Sunday Music – Six Months In A Leaky Boat

Posted on Sun 02/05/2012 by


Today’s music video is ‘Six Months In A Leaky Boat’ from the New Zealand and Australian band Split Enz.

Link to video at You Tube

This video was posted to You Tube by KhanadaRhodes

As Popular Music started to become the huge phenomenon it became in the 60’s, when an Australian act, be it a solo artist or a band made it big at home in Australia, their next step was a move to England to try and ‘crack it’ in the big time. Later, Australian bands turned their eyes to the U.S. as the next step after making it big at home.

However, for bands that started to make it big in New Zealand, that logical first step was to move across to Australia, the largest market for music close to them. This happened in many cases as New Zealand bands moved here to Australia, and then if they continued their rise, they too moved to the next step up the music market ladder, either the UK or the U.S.

Such is the case with the band who sing today’s featured song.

That band was Split Ends, and note the difference there with the name.

As they started their rise in New Zealand, they reached close to the top there, and then decide to move to Australia. For two years from 1972 they worked their way up in New Zealand, and prior to their move to Australia in 1975, they changed their name to Split Enz. This was a form of homage to their place of origin New Zealand, N.Z. hence the subtle change of the last word in the name of the band, from Ends to Enz.

When they did arrive here in Australia, they were in a league of their own. They dressed in a zany manner, and sang zany songs almost in affected tones, sounding like no other band at the time.

It took a while before the band became accepted, and they had a couple of minor hits, gradually becoming one of the top bands in Australia. The band was categorised as ‘Art’ rock, but there were elements of Punk, New Wave, and Progressive Rock, but the band became very well known.

After two years in Australia, the band moved to the UK to try and make it big in the wider World, hence the move to England.

Again, their zany music and appearance still had them as an act with not many similar competitors, but they were accepted quite readily, and being a considerably larger market, they got steady work.

In 1977, they produced the album ‘Dizrythmia’, the album that finally saw the band make the big time. From that album came the hit ‘My Mistake’, which charted well back home in new Zealand, and also here in Australia.

Now commuting across the World for tours in New Zealand, Australia, and also around the UK, and across Europe, they were in fact in the big time.

That came to a thud as the band had a couple of lean years following this album and the hit single. They had another minor hit with the also zany ‘I See Red’, but it wasn’t until late 1979 that they came good, and with a vengeance, following the release of the album ‘True Colours’. From that album came the band’s Monster Smash Hit ‘I Got You’, which was a Number One hit in New Zealand and Australia, made the Top Ten in the UK and also made the charts in the U.S. Also released as a single was the melodic song ‘I Hope I Never’, which after the zany songs released earlier marked a departure from the bands normal songs.

There was one album released after this smash album, and then came the release in 1982 of the album ‘Time And Tide’.

From this album came the song featured today, ‘Six Months In A Leaky Boat’, and there is some history associated with this song.

It was released as a single in mid 1982 just as The Falklands War started.

The song was thought to be in reference to this War, as a form of protest, considering all forces sent from England to the Falkland Islands had to get their by sea, and with parents having their sons away at War, the song was ‘discouraged’ from airplay in the UK because of the sensitivities that might be associated with the song.

This was not the case at all, as the song had been composed Months prior to even the thought of the War.

The reference point in the song dates back to the early days of settlement in Australia and New Zealand, when the only way of getting there from England was by sailing ship, hence the title of the song, ‘Six Months In A Leaky Boat’, and in fact one line in the song where it talks of ‘the tyranny of distance’.

The song itself features what can almost be described as an original sailor’s song from the sailing ship era, what is affectionately referred to as a ‘sailor’s hornpipe’.

Besides being a catchy tune with wonderful lyrics, the song actually takes you back to that era of the sailing ships.

This clip featured today is the longer version of the song, with the extended introduction, and a slightly longer instrumental section in the middle. It also features some wonderful Maori dancing from the homeland of the band, New Zealand.

As is mostly always the case with songs that are either banned, or discouraged from airplay, this in fact worked in the opposite manner. People wanted to hear the song, hence sales were quite large for the single, and also the album.

No such sensitivities were in place in Australia and New Zealand, and the single made its way steadily up the charts, selling well, and rising to Number 2 in Australia, and into the top five in New Zealand. The song also charted well in the UK, and also charted highly in Canada.

The band, now widely accepted had moved away (ever so slightly) from their original very zany songs into mainstream music.

The band, as Split Enz folded in 1984, although they have appeared in reunions, but that does not mean the individual musicians folded with that band. The two highest profile members of the band were the brothers Tim and Neil Finn, who have both had successful solo careers and also went on to form the highly respected and hugely popular band Crowded House.

Split Enz had a string of hits and the song featured today may not be one of their biggest, but it is a really wonderful example of the band’s large portfolio of hit songs.

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