Neil Finn’s 12 Greatest Musical Moments

Neil Finn’s 12 Greatest Musical Moments

Posted 16 Nov 2016

 

To celebrate Crowded House entering the ARIA Awards Hall Of Fame this year, the Antipodean band return to the steps of the Sydney Opera House next week for shows reprising their Farewell To The World concerts of 1996. To commemorate this auspicious occasion – and the fact next year marks 40 years since an 18-year-old Neil Mullane Finn joined big brother Tim in New Zealand’s art rock legends Split Enz – we’ve put together a list of some of Finn’s greatest musical moments.

 

1. Pour Le Monde (Time On Earth, 2007)

Partially inspired by Neil Finn witnessing a French demonstration march against the war in Afghanistan, Pour Le Monde (French for ‘For the world’) was an exquisite and underrated gem from Time On Earth, the first Crowded House studio album in 14 years. In a sign of Finn’s affection for the tune, it later appeared on 2010’s The Very Very Best Of Crowded House.

2. Crowded House – Hole In The River (Farewell To The World 10th Anniversary Edition, 2006)

Finn’s touching personal tribute to his dead aunt was a highlight of Crowded House’s 1996 finale show, Farewell To The World. Despite the bonkers breakdown of this live incarnation, you can almost feel the cool Sydney Harbour breeze on your neck as it reaches the powerful line evoking her suicide: ‘she was coming to see him… Something changed her mind’. It became even more moving in the wake of drummer Paul Hester’s own suicide in 2005.

3. The Finn Brothers – Edible Flowers (Everyone Is Here, 2004)

Originally written for an aborted Split Enz reunion project, this reflection on mortality was a highlight of the Finn Brothers’ fantastic reunion album. Headlining Homebake the next year, the song had even more pertinence following the March 2005 death of Crowded House and Split Enz drummer Paul Hester. A black felt hat and snare drum were placed at the front of the stage in tribute.

4. Neil Finn – The Climber (Nil Fun, 2001)

The opening track of Nil Fun was also released on the Neil Finn & Friends - 7 Worlds Collide live album, featuring guests including The Smiths’ Johnny Marr and Radiohead’s Phil Selway and Ed O’Brien. It was written about Rob Hall, a New Zealand mountaineer who died on Everest in 1996.

5. Neil Finn – She Will Have Her Way (Try Whistling This, 1999)

She Will Have Her Way’s music video was inspired by the 1950s B-grade films Attack Of The 50 Foot Woman and The 30 Foot Bride Of Candy Rock and ends with the saucy proposition of a regular sized Neil Finn getting some bedroom action with his giant Amazon bride.

6. Crowded House - Recurring Dream (Afterglow, 1999)

A refugee from pre-Crowded House band The Mullanes, the upbeat Recurring Dream features an atypical cascading guitar figure reminiscent of The Smiths. Left off any Crowded House albums until 1999’s rarities collection Afterglow, it’s the only Crowded House song to feature a songwriting credit for original guitarist Craig Hooper.

7. Crowded House – Private Universe (Together Alone, 1993)

Private Universe encapsulates Neil Finn’s finest facets: lyrics as profound as biblical parables, an ear for melody to rival The Beatles and a fondness for musical beauty. It reappeared in a stellar stripped back form on 1999’s Afterglow compilation.

8. Crowded House – Fall At Your Feet (Woodface, 1990)

After Crowded House’s second album’s title Temple Of Low Men was revealed as a slang term for cunnilingus, some fans might have jumped to the conclusion Woodface’s Fall At Your Feet was referencing more of the same. The lyrics in fact explored the protagonist’s wish to relieve a partner of their grief and shoulder some of their sadness. The only Crowded House album to feature Tim Finn as a member, Fall At Your Feet was an understated Woodface highlight.

9. Crowded House – Don’t Dream It’s Over (Crowded House, 1986)

While it made it to number one in Finn’s home country of New Zealand, Don’t Dream It’s Over only made it to number eight in Australia at a time when John Farnham’s You’re The Voice sat at the top of the chart. The famous video featuring vintage knick-knacks, shattering crockery and Paul Hester ironing was directed by Alex Proyas, who later made Hollywood films including The Crow, I, Robot and Gods Of Egypt.

10. Split Enz - Message To My Girl (Conflicting Emotions, 1984)

Neil wrote this song for his girlfriend Sharon Johnson, who he married in 1982. Sharon has since recorded with Neil as Pajama Club, releasing an eponymous album in 2011. The Message To My Girl video was the first to feature new Split Enz drummer Paul Hester and the last to feature departing Enz founder Tim Finn.

11. Split Enz - History Never Repeats (Corroboree, 1981)

A favourite of Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder, History Never Repeats’ vocal harmonising midway through has a strange Little River Band quality. History Never Repeats’ parent album was named Corroboree for its Australian release and Waiata in New Zealand (both words being indigenous terms for musical celebrations). The song was mischievously performed as the final encore on Split Enz’ 2008 reunion tour.

12. Split Enz - I Got You (True Colours, 1979)

Perky melodies, spooky synths, a memorable music video and Neil Finn’s lyrical tussle with paranoia led to Split Enz’s first Aussie number one.

Crowded House play the Sydney Opera House Forecourt on Thursday November 24, Friday November 25, Saturday November 26 and Sunday November 27. Share with us your own favourite Neil Finn songs and memories!

Until then, Crowded House will be doing a Live stream on their Facebook page http://facebook.com/crowdedhouse, starting at 5:30pm AU Time / 7:30pm NZ Time TODAY (Wednesday 16 November). During the performance you can call the band with questions! They will talk to you on these numbers: AUS (+61) 2 90422670 or NZ 0800 110 323

- SM

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