Monday, May 16, 2005

Weather With You

It was with some shock that I read online about Crowded House drummer Paul Hester's suicide by hanging in a Melbourne Park last March. I had a similar shock reading about INXS frontman Michael Hutchence's suicide several years ago. It's sad when talent leaves the world that way, abruptly.

I've been a Crowdie since "Don't Dream It's Over" hit the US Billboard Charts at No. 2 in 1986. Recently I completed my Crowded House mp3's (both studio and live tracks), and came up with a playlist of my favorite 21 tracks from across four of their albums (Crowded House, Temple of Low Men, Woodface and Together Alone). Their music has been alternately described as pop, folk-rock and blues. I love the energetic and soulful guitar on most of these tracks, and I always find myself unconsciously singing backup to Neil Finn's amazing vocals. Been playing it over and over; if you ask me, it's the kind of music I'd bring with me to a desert island:

1. Don't Dream It's Over
2. Something So Strong
3. Mean To Me
4. I Walk Away
5. Now We're Getting Somewhere
6. Tombstone
7. World Where You Live
8. I Feel Possessed
9. When You Come
10. Into Temptation
11. Distant Sun
12. Private Universe
13. It's Only Natural
14. Fall At Your Feet
15. Whispers & Moans
16. Four Seasons In One Day
17. Fame Is
18. As Sure As I Am
19. How Will You Go
20. She Goes On
21. Weather With You

Naturally, I've also been collecting Neil Finn's solo work ("Try Whistling This" and "One Nil"). I love his voice, the same way I love Paul McCartney's and Paul Young's voices. I'm not the first one to note the Beatles vibe; one reviewer on says, "Neil Finn has a McCartneyesque gift for melody and a Lennonesque gift for lyrics." Imagine, for example, The Beatles' "Blackbird", segueing to Crowded House's "Into Temptation".

Crowded House's strongest album, in my opinion, is "Woodface". My favorite lyrics come from "Mean To Me":

So I talked to you for an hour
In the bar of a small town motel
And you asked me what I was thinking
I was thinking of a padded cell
With a black and white TV
To stop us from getting lonely

Crowded House remains underrated and tagged unfairly (outside of Australia and New Zealand) as an '80s band. I beg to differ; the songs in my playlist always sound fresh and undated, except possibly for "Don't Dream It's Over" (as a result of its relatively heavier airplay, because it's such a classic). They also performed really well live. I believe they could've been managed and promoted better in the US, but then that's moot. They broke up way back in 1996, holding a mammoth farewell concert in Australia, and releasing their greatest hits album "Recurring Dream". Fortunately Neil Finn has gone from strength to strength in his solo career.

My favorite songs? The heartbreaking "Better Be Home Soon", the romantic "She Goes On", the atmospheric "Private Universe" and of course the anthem "Weather With You".