Friday, February 5, 2016

I'll Come Flying Like A Spark

I thought that maybe finishing the book and writing about it would cool this Crowdie jag I'm on but I have a few more observations to share, if only with myself.

* Neil's songs are just the sneakiest. At heart they're very simple but so many will take a subtle turn or unusual route and then blindside you hooks. I can't much explain how (and for all that went into that lengthy bio, that doesn't either) but it's definitely a skill of his, and something I now realize I'd pointed out before.

Often, this musical sneak attack is a match for introspective lyrics examining the dark reaches of the male psyche, as in this slow-burning but explosive cut from TEMPLE OF LOW MEN.

* That's Split Enz' Eddie Rayner in the corner on keyboards by the way (he played with them and sometimes toured in the band's early days). Thanks in part to Mitchell Froom's big bag of tricks in the studio (he was George Martin to Finn's Lennon/McCartney act) and guest musicians like Rayner and Tim Finn, Crowded House were a trio that hardly ever sounded like one.

* Notice too that song embeds a very obvious callout to other songs with the lines: People Are Strange/God Only Knows. Neil also does this a lot, even getting two Beatles references in the first couplet of "Don't Dream It's Over": Within/Without and catching the rain "in a paper cup." Can't be a mistake!

* Other songs nick bits of his influences, and they're all great too: The jangly "Weather With You" is "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" in disguise; peel back "Into Temptation" and find "A Day in the Life" while "Pineapple Head" is a more obvious "Norwegian Wood" tribute but with another sucker-punch hook.

* I probably came off too hard on "Chocolate Cake" below. I like it enough, and it doesn't offend me personally. But it was an odd choice for a single. Ultimately, the problem with seeking an "edge" for Crowded House was that their strengths were often so well hidden.

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