Who can it be knocking at my door?
Go 'way, don't come 'round here no more
Can't you see that it's late at night?
I'm very tired, and I'm not feeling right
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?
Who can it be now?
Who can it be now?
Who can it be now?

Who can it be knocking at my door?
Make no sound, tip-toe across the floor
If he hears, he'll knock all day
I'll be trapped, and here I'll have to stay
I've done no harm, I keep to myself
There's nothing wrong with my state of mental health
I like it here with my childhood friend
Here they come, those feelings again!

Who can it be now?
Who can it be now?
Who can it be now?
Who can it be now?

Is it the man come to take me away?
Why do they follow me?
It's not the future that I can see
It's just my fantasy

Yeah

Hoo, hoo, hoo

Who can it be now?
Who can it be now?
Who can it be now?
Who can it be now?

Oh oh oh who can it be now?
Oh where we are
Who can it, who can it
Oh who can it now
Oh where we are
Yeah yeah yeah


Lyrics submitted by numb

Who Can It Be Now? Lyrics as written by Colin James Hay

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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Who Can It Be Now? song meanings
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24 Comments

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  • +5
    General CommentI don't think it's about masturbation, like whymighti proposes, but paranoid schizophrenia sounds about right; perhaps the "It's not the future that I can see,/It's just my fantasy" is not self-directed, instead being another person speaking of the narrator's delusional behavior.
    It could also be self-reassurance or denial, which would go well with "There's nothing wrong with my state of mental health."
    Bouts of par. schiz. would fit, as would manic-depressive attacks.
    Then again, it could be about just a very shy man with reclusive tendencies or a bad past relationship.
    OlOleanderon March 24, 2009   Link
  • +3
    General CommentI always thought this was about mental illness. I'm surprised more other people have not thought so. The narrator sounds paranoid (is it the man come to take me away, why do they follow me, I'll be trapped) and anxious. He's aware that something is wrong with him (I'm not feeling right; here they come, those feelings again) but is trying to deny it (there's nothing wrong with my state of mental health.) He is having delusions but again, is denying it -- as apparent by one of the strangest lines, "it's not the future that I can see, it's just my fantasy." Obviously he has been feeling like he can see the future, but now he's trying to convince himself or others that he's normal. Then there's that weird line about being "here with my childhood friend" when he's actually alone.

    PS - Colin Hay's solo acoustic version is great; much better than the original.
    sorrelon November 23, 2007   Link
  • +2
    My InterpretationThis song is about a guy wishing to not be bugged by people for a little while so he can relax. I really think it's no deeper than that.
    travisbron July 31, 2014   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis would appear to be a normal, "I want to be left alone" kind of song, but its much deeper.

    The following make it an 'abnormal' situation:

    1) Nothing wrong with my state of mental health.
    2) I like it here with my childhood friend (he is alone)

    Children have 'imaginary friends', can this be his insanity?

    No it cannot be, because whatever he is doing is illegal: Is it "the man" come to take me away".

    1) Its not my furture that I can see (the consequenses)
    2) Its just my fantasy (the consuming fire of the now)

    Drugs? Porn? The list goes on... Something he 'felt' as a child...
    CHavenon September 03, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentIt's when those adult trick or treaters come by my house and it's well into the bar hours. They don't want the Milky Ways, they want chicken wings. Unbelievable!!
    jumpy73on June 10, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentAbout a person struggling with paranoid schizophrenia: he know's he's not right in the head, but he moves in an out of sanity and can't help it.

    The tension between sanity and insanity is what makes this song.
    Sonofagunzelon July 29, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentWhen the song came out, Colin Hay said it was about the bill collectors that used to come to his (and his buddy's) apartment to collect. They would hide and pretend that they weren't home to buy themselves some time.

    Masturbation...
    jedidivemasteron March 29, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis song is a result of clear dementia which was
    due inproper misuse of drogs and alcohol.

    Colin Hay is still one smashing bloke
    though and he has been clean for a long
    time now (just listen to the song
    "I wish I was still drinking).

    Still... this song is still jolly damn good.
    KajaGooGooon June 02, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General Commentsounds like a mix of anthropohobia -the fear of people-, constant paranoia, and schizophrenia and possibly full blown insanity. i say anthropophobia because it says "don't come in i'll only run and hide" meaning he is so scared of people his resort is to hide. i say paranoia because when it says "don't you invade my home," it is displaying he is paranoid of people breaking in. schizophrenia because he is hallucinating a "childhood friend" but he is all alone. finally "Is it the man come to take me away? Why do they follow me?" gives the impression (to me at least) that someone from a mental ward has came to take him in.
    underlyricks70on April 07, 2014   Link
  • +1
    Song MeaningI'm starting to think this song has no particular meaning, it was a true artist that wrote this to relate to a variety of people. Whether it was intended to be for an addiction or schizophrenia, in a way - both are mental illnesses. Anyone who has been there, I'm sure would agree. Maybe. Both are very similar, what you are doing is subconsciously known as wrong and you start to question yourself and lose trust in those around you - or the ones coming to get you. But I do like the earlier post of: Is someone coming to take him away from the place, whether it be they've already been admitted and getting them out or if they are taking them in. Also the debt collectors could be after them? Never really looked too far into this song and its very strange 80's corny music video. But after looking at the lyrics and the comments of this site...started on pondering. Maybe it is what it is, just an arrangements of words that sounded right. Kurt Cobain did the same kind of writing - I'll throw this down on paper, maybe it has meanings or maybe this song comes on and it just applies to you in a way that has nothing to do with someone else who feels the same lyrics applies to them. Maybe we were never supposed to know? Hope I'm not actually 30 years late of throwing a comment up for this.
    Cavired99on May 29, 2012   Link

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