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 Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    Today's song is "World Where You Live", written by Neil Finn.

    "World Where You Live" was released as the lead single in most countries (though in some it was preceded by "Mean to Me.") It also opened some versions of the album. It charted in the US, the Netherlands and Australia. An extended 12-inch single mix was also released. (I will post a link to it below.)
    Live versions were also released as:

    • a b-side to "Instinct"
    • the Farewell to the World double CD.
    There have also been numerous live versions releaed on fan-club releases and live albums released in 2007 and 2010.
  2. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    The extended version:

  3. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

  4. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    Live Farewell to the World version:

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  5. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

  6. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    The song was notoriously inspired by one of Gary Stamler's neighbours who would often have sex at six in the morning. Neil stayed with Stamler's condominium during pre-production of Crowded House.

    Interestingly, the demo above seems to show that originally it was just the moody verse and sad middle eight. The giddy, playful chorus is absent. I wonder if this is another song where Mitchell suggested combining two songs or if Neil just finalized it with the chorus later in Melbourne at Tim's house when he was staying there "to get some work done away from the family?" (The demo is recorded on Tim's piano, according to the liner notes of the deluxe version.)

    I have to work a little to make sense of the song lyrically. First it shows a snapshot of a woman who's having an affair with someone who is not who he seems. Then it seems as if he's in bed with his lover or wife, and I get the impression that this is someone different than the first woman.

    There's a subtle theme of sexual envy that occasionally crops up in Neil's work in the first verse, but that's not the main point.

    Both situations in both verses are connected by the plea in the chorus, which is nothing less than a plea for human connection: there is this sense that we are all these separate, lonely beings and the chorus playfully tries to bridge that gap.

    The middle eight, where Neil sings "Friends come round, you might remember and be sad/behind their eyes is unfamiliar" is a startling line for me: so true. This song goes to places pop songs rarely go, and if it is inarticulate, I would say that's because the emotion it's expressing a particularly easy emotion to articulate with words.

    There's a lot packed into the song musically: the moody rhythm and blues riff that opens the song and plays through the verses (great funk-wise bass work from Nick, solid drumming from Paul), the joyful chorus, which almost sounds like it shouldn't fit...but it does, the glorious middle 8 and instrumental break, which is often filled with a guitar solo live, but, interestingly is just sort of abstract on record, without melody: as if there was a guitar solo there but it got wiped-- I like that bit a lot. I love abstract instrumentals.

    And the final bit is cool, the backing vocals apparently a Nick Seymour idea from a rehearsal in which he forgot the bass line and starting singing "to the world! to the world!"

    The song on record is so tightly constructed; it has an Lennon/McCartney-like economy of ideas -- compare the bridge to the middle 8 here to that of Neil's "Breaking My Back" from 1984: it's so relatively seamless here!

    Live though, each part is really brought out: the intro-groove is moodier, the humor embedded in the chorus really comes out, and the end bit is great. (The live singing on the middle 8 is usually disappointing but the instrumental part is always great. I think I have about five live versions of this and all of them are subtly different instrumental breaks. ) This is one of Neil's great sing-along songs too.

    For me, the most definitive version is still the studio version, though, mainly because of that middle 8.
  7. robcar

    robcar Forum Resident

    Denver, CO
    "World Where You Live" is a fantastic song that, for me, is only held back a bit by (again) the lyrics not making much sense. I know that Neil wrote it after overhearing neighbors engaged in sexual congress at the apartment he was staying in on one of his trips to L.A. to interview prospective producers for the album, but only a small part of the lyric seems to reference that event. The rest is fairly impenetrable to me, although as usual, a few lyrical bits stand out. The writing demo that is included as a bonus track on the deluxe edition reissue of Crowded House gives us a short excerpt of what the song sounded like at that time, with Neil pounding out the tentative melody on piano (and getting some notes wrong before self-correcting).

    I love the arrangement and the melody, with the chorus in particular being just melodic perfection to my ears. The ending of the song is sheer genius, with that "to the world/to the world/to the world" bit repeated in falsetto just before the crashing chord sequence that ends the track. The build-up and release in that part of the song is addictive. The bridge ("friends come round...") and instrumental break are perfect, and the synth keyboards over the basic electric piano with the acoustic guitars strumming in the background all makes for sonic manna from heaven. It's possibly my favorite track on the album, although there's another contender for that coming late in the track list (with far better lyrics).

    "World Where You Live" was released as the second single from the album, but the b-sides varied from country to country. In AUS and the US, "Hole In The River" (album version) was again the b-side, just as it had been on the first single "Mean to Me". In NZ and the UK, the b-side was the album track "That's What I Call Love" (shown with the incorrect timing of 4:22 when it actually plays the album version of 3:39 - there is no longer version of that track). Other countries used one of these same two tracks as the b-side. In the US, a 12" single was issued containing the album version of WWYL plus album tracks "Mean to Me" and "Something So Strong". However, NZ/Germany/the UK got something special on their 12" singles (and, for the first time, in the UK - a CD single!): an extended version of WWYL. The b-sides differed among these singles, with the only non-album (sort of) track being the first appearance of the full-length version of "Can't Carry On", issued on the UK 12" single. This would later be included on the international CD version of the album which was issued about 9 months after the LP in non-AUS/NZ markets (as I mentioned yesterday, the original AUS/NZ issue of the album included an edited version of CCO).

    Back to the extended version of WWYL - I actually prefer it to the album version. It adds a minute and a half to the track, and with music as great as this, more is always better. Unlike the other extended version created for a single from this album, this one works. All of the extra musical bits are worth hearing and I like the mix, which highlights the acoustic guitars more than the album mix. On my CH playlist, this is the version I use. It can be heard here: Neil Finn - The Kitchen Sink IV — Neil Finn or via Lance’s link above.

    As a single, "World Where You Live" failed to break through, charting only at fairly low positions in AUS and the US, and not at all anywhere else (except the Netherlands, apparently?). Following the subsequent success of "Don't Dream It's Over", in the US, Capitol reissued WWYL as a promo CD single in 1987 (calling it "single version", but there's no difference between it and the album version) and adding three excellent live tracks as b-sides. These were the first official release, albeit promo-only, of Crowded House live material, and all three of the chosen versions are great: "World Where You Live" from San Francisco on 4-9-87; "Something So Strong" from the Trocadero in Philadelphia on 3-24-87; and "Don't Dream It's Over" from the Roxy in L.A. on 2-26-87. The latter two were later re-issued multiple times as b-sides on various commercial singles - "SSS" on the UK "Something So Strong" 12" and again on the US 12" and UK "Sister Madly" singles; and "DDIO" also on the UK "Something So Strong" 12", the "Better Be Home Soon" AUS/NZ 12" and UK single, and for a third time on the 1993 "Nails In My Feet" single. Each is a near-definitive live reading, in my opinion, illustrating that the ability of the band to get their audiences to sing portions of the songs was there right from the beginning.

    WWYL itself has seen several other official live versions issued over the years, but I'll hold off on discussing those until we reach each of those singles and live albums. This is already long enough!

    4.7/5 for the album version; 4.8 for the extended version
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2019
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  8. HitAndRun

    HitAndRun Forum Resident

    It was great having the larger discussion we've been having, and it's great to meet people from the past. I hope we can have more meta-discussions as the thread goes on.

    But, this is a bit of a 'back to the grindstone' post as I need to work and also work out some details for my forthcoming trip to NZ.

    World Where You Live is for me a good song musically. It doesn't quite reach the heights of some others on the album, but I very much like the slightly abstract lyrics. With lyrics that have more subtle or indistinct meanings, I'm quite happy to enjoy them as they are, without putting a detailed interpretation on them, and these lyrics really work for me.

    The production is good. It's a very solid song musically and the performance is good.


    I will warn people that 4/5 is going to be an extremely common score for me through the Crowded House albums.
  9. Paul H

    Paul H The fool on the hill

    Nottingham, UK
    World Where You Live is perfect from first note to last. Someone upthread noted that they could easily give most CH songs a 5 but, to do so would be to diminish the songs that would score a 6. I get that. Here's one that would score a 6. And yes, I love that Extended Version: more of genius is, um, more genius. I especially love how the backing vocals are isolated at the start of the track, allowing them to be heard in all their glory. They must have been so much fun to sing.

    Their debut album is, for me, much like the Beatles' catalogue: I know it so well I never play it and the songs never bounce around my head. That wasn't always so (I spent most of the early 90's listening to nothing other than CH. Literally.) World Where You Live is the one exception: this song still regularly pops up on my internal juke box. 5/5.
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2019
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  10. Paul H

    Paul H The fool on the hill

    Nottingham, UK
    I'll expand on my thesis:
    - both Neil and McCartney found success as Second in Command in someone else's band.
    - they came be Commander in Chief towards the end of those bands' careers
    - those earlier bands (Split Enz and of course The Beatles) were formed organically by friends.
    - when those early bands split, both NF and PM wanted to recreate the camaraderie and friendship that goes with being a band. Surely, when you're half way round the world, thousands of miles from home, you'd rather be with friends than employees...
    - however, both NF and PM also wanted the artistic freedom that comes with being solo artists
    - they also wanted to collaborate but that's hard when you're the guy who put the band together to help you record your songs...
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  11. Paul H

    Paul H The fool on the hill

    Nottingham, UK
    Brilliant post, @robcar. Just a minor point of detail: in the UK, World Where You Live was the band's first single.
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  12. This is a great song and brilliant album opener in the instances where it opened the album. But - there's a five point scale we have to live in, and I have to score relative to what else is out there.... so 4/5 for me, knowing that some amazing stuff is coming.
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  13. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    There’s also the use of his wife as backing vocalist and general family man image.

    Maybe the main reason I Am not comfortable with the comparison is not because of the lack of truth but because I think it is used so easily and lazily to dismiss Neil’s music. (I know you are not doing this here.)

    And also because I generally like Neil’s music more than Paul’s post-Beatle stuff. Though to be clear I like McCartney and have all his albums but the last one. I don’t think he’s done any album which was truly bad. Except Give My Regards To Broad Street.
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2019
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  14. StefanWq

    StefanWq Forum Resident

    Vallentuna, Sweden
    "World Where You Live" is a special song to me. As the European edition of the LP has this one as the first track on side A, it was the very first Crowded House track I heard on record, after having been to their unplugged concert in Stockholm on September 23, 1986. I first listened to the album the next day and this track is a perfect way to start the album. It starts off kind of modestly, low-key and then comes what I call a "big chorus" that transforms the song to a real pop classic and then it just builds in intensity from that point on, to the brilliant ending ("To the world, to the world, to the world / The world where you live"). For a long time, my view was that this track may be the best anyone had ever written and I think I listened to the debut album more or less at least once every day until "Temple of Low Men" came along.
    I have also had a long period when I haven't listened at all to the first album, I had listened to the album so much, and heard zillions of live versions of this song in particular, that I felt it needed a long break from my stereo. When I listened to it now, it struck me how fresh it still sounds and how good the song is. When it was originally released, the most recent studio album of Neil's that I heard before the debut Crowded House album was "Conflicting Emotions" (I didn't track down a copy of "See Ya 'Round" until several years later). I love that album but Crowded House's debut was such fresh air, like opening a window on a warm day. "Conflicting Emotions" was quite keyboard-oriented, has some drum programming and machines and the songs also had a feeling of being either Neil-with-session musicians or Tim-with-session musicians (even though the "session musicians" were the other Enz members). With the debut Crowded House album, it really feels like a band record, where Neil, Paul and Nick are relishing to play new songs together and in this moment in time, free from burdens of the expectations that past records might bring, management hassles, record company hassles etc. They sound like a united trio, happy that the songs have turned out the way they imagined them.

    The extended mix is interesting as a slightly different slant to the song though I don't listen to it all that often.

    A favourite memory related to this song: my favourite radio show at the time played this particular track twice within fifteen minutes one evening, something they never did usually with any song. One of the radio DJs commented, "Well, that song is just so good, we had to hear it again!"
    I give this song 4,5/5.
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  15. dthomas850

    dthomas850 Forum Resident

    Cleveland, Ohio
    I've never heard the extended version of this track before, but for me it doesn't really add much to the song, I can see why the intro got cut for the album. As far as lyrics go, I've never been one to analyze them. I really don't care if they aren't perfect, or don't make sense or tell a story or whatever. As long as they sound good within the context of the song.

    I know there are better songs to come on future albums, but I am voting based on the context of the album. This is another excellent track and I consider it a classic Crowded House song.
  16. PJayBe

    PJayBe Forum Resident

    Extended version doesn't do it for me, but the original gets a solid 4
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  17. robcar

    robcar Forum Resident

    Denver, CO
    Right, I just meant overall. If I went country by country, it would get really lengthy. Often with CH the same singles were released around the world but in different orders by country. WWYL was the first track from the album to receive international promotion as a single and video. MTM was more of a one off single to introduce the band to their “home” countries, I think.
  18. therunner

    therunner Forum Resident

    WWYL epitomises my scoring dilemma that PaulH referred to above, in that I would give it 5/5 without hesitation if I had never heard any other CH albums, but of course I know what is still to come so reluctantly, wonderful though it is, WWYL gets 'just' 4/5
  19. Paul H

    Paul H The fool on the hill

    Nottingham, UK
    Hell yeah! It was just that you went to the trouble of explaining the ANZAC vs EU differences on the album bu then made a more universal statement about the first single, so I just wondered whether you were aware of the different release schedule. Clearly you are :cheers:
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  20. factory44

    factory44 Forum Resident

    Pittsburgh, PA USA
    WWYL is the first Crowded House classic. The lyric may be a bit impenetrable, but the mystery adds to the atmosphere.

    This song is Finn perfection.

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  21. Turk Thrust

    Turk Thrust Forum Resident

    A nice song and I quite enjoy it, but it never struck me as one of the stronger songs on the best of. As I will award many better songs 4 or 5, I can only stretch to 3.5/5 for this one. Mainly due to the lyrics.
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  22. AudioEnz

    AudioEnz Forum Resident

    Blam Blam Blam (a New Zealand group of the early 1980s, for non-New Zealand readers) are touring this month, the first time for years.

    In Christchurch, my home town, they're playing two nights. The night I can go is sold out :(
  23. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    Our votes for "World Where You Live":

    Average: 4.3273
  24. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    Today's song is "Now We're Getting Somewhere", by Neil Finn.

    Spotify: Now We're Getting Somewhere

    "Now We're Getting Somewhere" was released as a single and charted in New Zealand and Australia. A live version recorded at Wolfgang's in San Francisco was released as a B-side and it was anthologized on The Very Very Best of Crowded House.

    Unusually, for this studio version, the song was played by LA musical legends Jim Keltner and Jerry Scheff on drums and bass respectively, as Paul and Nick were having trouble playing a shuffle. The live version show that they mastered the tempo afterwards.

    The song was put together from two different demos: "Now We're Getting Somewhere" and "Stranger Underneath My Skin". WE discussed those two demos earlier. Below are links to the discussions:

    Stranger than Fiction, Larger Than Life: the Finn Brothers song-by-song discussion thread
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2019
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  25. Turk Thrust

    Turk Thrust Forum Resident

    I dislike Neil's vocal on this one and the lyrics again leave a little to be desired.

    The chorus is catchy though and sticks in the mind.

    They probably could have trimmed the song down a little.


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