Stranger than Fiction, Larger Than Life: the Finn Brothers song-by-song discussion thread

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Lance LaSalle, Jan 21, 2019.

  1. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle TEFL Lord Thread Starter

    Location:
    Vsetin
    Re: extra, non-album tracks: In addition to Stefan’s suggestions, I’d also like to discuss “You I Know”, a Neil Finn song performed by Jenny Morris and released in 1987.
     
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  2. HitAndRun

    HitAndRun Forum Resident

    I'm sure you were doing things equally, if not of even more interest. And if not, then there's plenty of interest going on out there.

    These memories would in some way be a bit sad for me if this thread had happened last year, as I got quite down about not doing anything interesting for a long time when life seemed far more exciting way back when. But, I took action to address that, and feel much better now :)
     
  3. HitAndRun

    HitAndRun Forum Resident

    "then there's plenty of interest going on out there even now", that should say.
     
  4. dthomas850

    dthomas850 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Cleveland, Ohio
    This album was my first introduction to Neil Finn and I'd have to say that I consider it a classic debut album. Not sure what initially sparked my interest but I do remember the videos being shown quite a bit on MTV at the time. I hadn't listened to this one in quite a while until recently I played the dualdisc 5.1 mix, which I've had for a while but only listened to once before. Wow! I was quite blown away! The sound quality and surround mix gave me a new appreciation for this great album. I can't see ever listening to it in stereo again.

    Mean To Me is just a great opening track, love everything about it.
    5/5
     
  5. StefanWq

    StefanWq Forum Resident

    Location:
    Vallentuna, Sweden
    On the same album, there is also the track "Beating On The Same Drum", on which Jenny Morris duets with Tim Finn, who wrote the song and also plays piano on it.
     
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  6. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle TEFL Lord Thread Starter

    Location:
    Vsetin
    That one too then! Thank you!!
     
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  7. HitAndRun

    HitAndRun Forum Resident

    We gotta do that one! It's a really fun song.
     
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  8. StefanWq

    StefanWq Forum Resident

    Location:
    Vallentuna, Sweden
    The fan in question, called Jeannie (no surname is given), was in New Zealand in 1985 as an exchange student, living in a town called Levin on the North Island. She had been interested in New Zealand since a school project when she was ten and, through that, became a big Split Enz fan. As an exchange student, she was often invited to hold speches and do Q & A sessions. One of these was for RSA (Returned Servicemen's Association) Women's Chapter, where she mentioned being a fan of Split Enz. At this meeting, a woman called Gwen came up to her afterwards. "She gave me an address and made me promise to write to her good friend, Mary Finn. She said she would love to hear my story of how the music of her sons brought a girl halfway around the world". Jeannie was hesitant about writing to Mary Finn, but was persuaded to by Gwen. "She said it would mean a lot to Mary". So she wrote to Mary Finn. "I tried to point out various songs that helped me get through the trying times in my young life. /…/ I wanted Mary to know how much the music meant to me. I never in a million years ever thought about, or even wanted to, meet them". She saw an advertisement for the Party Boys show in Palmerston North and that the band included Neil and Mike Chunn. On the day of the show, she received a letter from Mary Finn. "In it, she promised nothing and said she hadn't spoken to Neil. She said the best way to meet him was to go to the soundcheck and gave me their normal time". The soundcheck was in fact happening as she was reading this letter and she wasn't able to go the venue straight away, but was happy that she was going to see the concert. "Afterwards, a man came from behind the stage curtain and asked if my name was Jeannie. He asked if I would mind waiting around a bit, because Neil wanted to talk to me".
    Regarding the actual song, she writes that "It is a special part of my life and a gift to me from Neil. A personal treasure. The story of this girl has taken on a life of its own, some truth and some fiction. /…/ Even though 'Mean To Me' only tells part of the story it's obviously such a special song to me."
    Her text in this book is illustrated by two photos, one from the meeting with Neil in Palmerston North in 1985 and one from another meeting with Neil in Amsterdam in 2016.

    I highly recommend the "We Got You!" book. There is a Facebook group run by the persons who were the editors of the book and I think they still have copies available.
     
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  9. StefanWq

    StefanWq Forum Resident

    Location:
    Vallentuna, Sweden
    Yes indeed, I am! It was an amazing experience for me, being at that unplugged Crowded House concert (their third gig outside Australia if I remember correctly), which had only been set up the very same day, and then meeting the band (which I was totally unprepared for), getting a signed LP, a signed poster and being invited to be part of an interview that Neil was doing for Sweden's biggest evening paper. The journalist in fact mentioned me in his article a week or so later. This was all rather overwhelming for me, I was 14 years old at the time. That whole evening is a favourite memory of mine and I'm happy that part of that story is in Chris Bourke's book. I remember the next morning when I met up with my best friend to cycle to school, I was all excited and said "I met Neil Finn last night!". His immediate response was "Oh yeah? And I met Ronald Reagan last night". He didn't believe me at first, but I managed to convince him it was true and after school that day, he followed me home and I showed him the signed LP and poster, and my father (who accompanied me to the Crowded House show) also verified it was true. I am happy to say that my friend also became a big fan of Crowded House and has all their albums etc. And we are still friends 30+ years later too.
     
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  10. DEAN OF ROCK

    DEAN OF ROCK Forum Resident

    Location:
    Hoover, AL
    CCR is a great analogy!
     
  11. PJayBe

    PJayBe Forum Resident

    Mean To Me is a great song, a definite 5 from me!
     
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  12. I agree with Stefan's summary of the song - it's always felt a little mean to me (SEE WHAT I DID THERE?). While I do like the song - I don't know if there's a single 3 on this record for me - there are others I like more. 4/5

    As for running order, I've had both versions of the album in various formats over the years, and I always thought "World Where You Live" was a better opening track in terms of sound/flow/whatever.

    Since it's getting discussed, it's pretty clear that HitAndRun and I knew each other from elsewhere, and Stefan is indeed who I thought he was - and I *do* still owe him a copy of "Mirror Blue." On a more "sentimental fool" note, all the time I was on that mailing list decades ago now, there was a group of four of us that I considered my inner circle, even if they thought I was a complete turd, and after having lost contact with them over time, it absolutely tickles me to death to see that three of us are here right now. :)
     
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  13. robcar

    robcar Forum Resident

    Location:
    Denver, CO
    I’m sure that’s true. I think that’s true of some of the other lyrics on this album as well. They may not make literal sense or even function well as poetry, but when combined with the music, they transmit a specific feeling to the listener.

    Neil would become, in my opinion, a much better and more precise lyricist as time passed, but I get what you’re saying about the emotional component.
     
  14. robcar

    robcar Forum Resident

    Location:
    Denver, CO
    At least Neil spared us a Crowded House Mardi Gras!
     
  15. Jaffaman

    Jaffaman Forum Resident

    Vetoed by the artist.:wiggle:
     
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  16. therunner

    therunner Forum Resident

    Location:
    England
    Pah, what does he know ? :D
     
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  17. therunner

    therunner Forum Resident

    Location:
    England
    I think "Mean To Me" is a great career opener, never mind album opener, there's just so much to admire about it as others have already pointed out. But I must admit I liked it better before I knew the story behind the lyrics.

    Scoring Crowded House songs is going to be so difficult because if I give 5/5 to all the songs I love (and there are a lot) then that would leave no room to give higher marks to the songs I really really love (and there are quite a few of them too). So even though it seems harsh because I love it, "Mean To Me" gets 4/5.
     
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  18. therunner

    therunner Forum Resident

    Location:
    England
    Interesting points, Paul, and I feel that subconsciously we view CH as more of a band because they are called CH and not "Neil Finn and the Whoevers" even though the dynamic between Neil and the other members would have probably been the same whatever their band name ie. Neil writes the songs and brings them to the band. I see an exact parallel in Bruce Springsteen & the E-Street Band or in Elvis Costello and the Attractions: the band leader is the songwriter and the singer. And both Springsteen and Costello made albums without their bands before later returning to make albums with them again, just like Neil did, and their fans (including me) can certainly tell the difference between the band albums and the non-band albums, just as obviously as we CH fans can tell CH albums from Neil's solo albums. But whereas CH 'officially' split up at a point in time and had farewell concerts, the Springsteen and Costello bands did not, because they're seen as stars with backing bands rather than a genuine band like CH. So I don't think there's just one single template for determining whether a band is a band, and maybe that's why it might look confusing to us on the outside when, for example, Time On Earth is released as a CH album. But Neil had a binary choice to make - NF solo or CH - whereas when only 2 out of the 3 original Attractions were still in Costello's backing band for some later albums, they were billed as "Elvis Costello and the Imposters", but Neil did not have this 3rd option available to him with Time On Earth, which he would have had if CH had originally been called "Neil Finn and the Whoevers".
     
  19. robcar

    robcar Forum Resident

    Location:
    Denver, CO
    Well, he could've gone with "Crowded Condo"...
     
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  20. robcar

    robcar Forum Resident

    Location:
    Denver, CO
    And, to celebrate this thread's discussion of the first ever released Crowded House song comes the announcement that Crowded House will be performing at a festival next April in New South Wales!
     
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  21. factory44

    factory44 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Pittsburgh, PA USA
    The first line of “Mean To Me” is fantastic. It’s an all time great song opener!

    But, I have to admit this isn’t one of my favorite Neil songs. I don’t dislike it. It’s fun to hear in a live setting. But, it’s not a song I seek out when I want to hear something by Neil.

    3/5
     
  22. Paul H

    Paul H Forum Resident

    Location:
    Nottingham, UK
    Well, of course. What I want to know is why on earth did you take any notice of him? I mean, the man left She's Not There off Temple, FFS! :)
     
  23. Paul H

    Paul H Forum Resident

    Location:
    Nottingham, UK
    I think there's much to discuss (maybe here, maybe not) about the interaction/chemistry of the band. I remember that one of the things I loved about CH, having seen them live before I'd even got to hear much of their catalogue, was that they seemed to be a real band. To later discover that things weren't quite as they seemed ("two dorks and a dictator", and Nick being sacked at one point) was really quite upsetting. It was revealing to me that Crowded House was started by Neil and Paul, and it seems clear to me that Neil's decision to quit CH back in 1996 was because it finally became clear to him that travelling round the world with three hired hands wasn't what he envisioned his band to be. There are remarkable parallels here between Finn and McCartney that I must remember to discuss when we get to 1995/6. But I jump ahead.
     
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  24. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle TEFL Lord Thread Starter

    Location:
    Vsetin
    I think they absolutely were "a real band" live, and often on record. Nicke and especially Paul made their live shows memorable, not only with their jokes but with the musical interplay between the three or four of them.

    I think this record, Temple and Together Alone (and INtriguer) are alsoabsolutely band albums. On the first two, Neil (ana Mitchell)dominate the most:But it's a trio+Mitchell Froom. Naturally the rhythm section just does its thing. Nick has also said he had "free rein" with his bass lines on Crowded House, but there is this sense that if Neil didn't like it, it went out.

    Yet, according to Paul, Neil walked them through his ideas "and we were quite happy to do it." I think that Mark Hart finally getting in on the studio action absolutely changed Crowded House's sound on Together Alone -- for the better, in my opinion. His work has a different color than Neil's...but they blended well. The sound is on the record, and it's a different sound than the first three. (Neil music, FWIW is yellow, brown and orange; Mark's is blue -- I have synaesthesia.)

    But Mark is so self-effacing, that Neil, who seems a little, uh, volatile sometimes, probably could get his way when he needed.

    I'm not prepared to call either Woodface or Time on Earth "full band" albums for reasons we'll discuss at that time. And the fact that they are not makes me feel like it shows how Neil's idea was rather flexible. On the other hand, you just have to put out the best record you can no matter what when you are on a major label.

    You say "McCartney"and I see the comparison with Wings in that it is fronted by one dominant talent and generally McCartney and Neil have things in common musically: they are cut from a similar cloth, down to the inarticulate lyrics but extreme emotionalism of the music; perhaps their Irish roots explain that. McCartney gets rhythm and blues in a way that Neil doesn't, I suppose, though. And I honestly think that the best of Neil is better than McCartney who to me, is always reliably, predictably, blandly "good" but seldom great. (My opinion.)

    But I'd say Mark Hart (or Mitchell Froom) was more important than Denny Laine. I also think the few songs we have with Peter Jones, that the chemistry between he and Nick also made a very different sound. I really wish that the Finn-Seymour-Hart-Jones band had made more music, it was groovy as heck.
     
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  25. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle TEFL Lord Thread Starter

    Location:
    Vsetin
    Our votes for "Mean to Me:"

    1-0
    2-0
    3-1
    4-4
    5-4
    Average: 4.2333
     
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