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. Paul H

    Paul H Forum Resident

    Location:
    Nottingham, UK
    I should add - because it's only fair - that when a long-term relationship of mine came to an end I found this song intensely moving, especially the line "I'm still your friend when you are in need".

    Yes. And a hug. I want to tell it that I love it above any other collection of songs the world has yet produced. As you may have noticed, I have a very very strong emotional connection to this album, like no other. But that's a topic for me to bore you all with tomorrow. Today, I just stand in awe.

    Here, here. It's been the highlight of my time on this forum. And I've been here a while...
     
  2. Ryan Lux

    Ryan Lux Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto, ON, CA
    Together Alone

    So glad to see the love here for this amazing song. This is one of Neil’s best songs and one of CH’s best records yet I never seem to hear people talking about it. I don’t think it’s shown up on any greatest hits compilation and they’ve never performed it live, AFAIK. What a shame because it’s an absolute treasure. Pure life affirming beauty from start to finish and a major achievement in production and arrangement.

    In fact, I’d go so far as to say this should’ve been the 1st single. It’s not like any of the singles were smash successes anyway and Together Alone would’ve really shown off how unique and special this album is. The culture mashup was kind of trendy at the time (still is if done well) so I really think it could’ve worked. I guess the only problem was, how would they have played it live without the choir?

    5/5
     
  3. Ryan Lux

    Ryan Lux Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto, ON, CA
    Me as well (even though it turned out not to be true ). :)
     
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  4. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    Location:
    Vsetin
    No, they performed it on the 1994 tour of the UK, notably at the Fleadh festival, and it's also on Home Brew. Not performed often, though.
     
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  5. Ryan Lux

    Ryan Lux Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto, ON, CA
    I’d love to see video of that!
     
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  6. Paul H

    Paul H Forum Resident

    Location:
    Nottingham, UK
    When I saw them at Sheffield Arena in June 1994 they played the entire album bar Skin Feeling. And One Step Ahead :)
     
  7. Ryan Lux

    Ryan Lux Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto, ON, CA
    Just saw Lance’s post about the fan club live versions. If anyone has this....(hint hint).
     
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  8. factory44

    factory44 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Pittsburgh, PA USA
    TA is a beautifully moving way to end the album. Well done, Neil.

    5/5.
     
  9. Otis82

    Otis82 Forum Resident

    Location:
    The Netherlands
    Lucky bastard. I’d love to know the full set list (pm...?).
     
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  10. therunner

    therunner Forum Resident

    Location:
    England
    For me "Together Alone" is a song in perfect context, so I cannot imagine a better way to close this wonderful album. But listening to it as a standalone song out of context as I just have now, I would not rate it as highly because it sounds more like a pleasant piece of ambient music rather than a fully-fledged quality song when compared to the high standards of the rest of the album. So I have to give it different ratings:

    5/5 as the album closer
    4/5 as a standalone song
     
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  11. robcar

    robcar Forum Resident

    Location:
    Denver, CO
    "Together Alone" is a song where the lyrics are masterful but, for me, the music doesn't quite live up to the lyrics. I've already mentioned how my enjoyment of this song is lessened in the context of the album because the transition from "Skin Feeling" is just so awkward. This is certainly a very unusual song for Crowded House and there are a myriad of ways in which it could have come off badly. Bourke's book recounts the memorable day on which the song was recorded, having been hurriedly written during an all-nighter, particularly Mark Hart's horn arrangement, right before the recording commenced. Apparently it was at the very end of the Karekare sessions and on a Sunday. The Maori vocalists were positioned somewhere across the valley and cables were run to their location from the house. The speakers were facing outward from the balcony at the front of the house, so there was an effect where the entire valley was filled with the sound of this music. Local residents turned out to watch and listen to the proceedings, and some ambient mics were set up to capture the background sounds. If I recall correctly, it was all captured on first take, and the mics even captured the sounds of birds chirping in time with the music! The solo Maori vocal at the climax of the song was apparently a spine-tingling moment for the onlookers as it echoed across the valley. The spontaneous applause that is heard after the final drumbeat on the Deluxe Edition reissue was the honest reaction of the assembled locals to witnessing and hearing this performance/recording.

    Rock/pop music has some excellent songs dealing with death, but none, in my mind, can quite surpass the elemental beauty of "Together Alone". The lyrics are poetry, even if the language is simple. It's a profoundly moving song, with the mournful brass (similar to what one might hear during the opening section of a New Orleanian funeral procession) setting a somber mood and the log drums anchoring the music in the earth. The climactic log drum piece brings the song to a sudden, stark conclusion (I prefer the cold ending on the original album, but am also glad we have the DE version with the reaction from the people watching the recording). The song wasn't performed live very often, but we do have the memorable 1994 London Fleadh Festival performance with the vocalists and log drummers that was issued on a UK radio promo disc. "Together Alone", somewhat oddly, was issued as a single in AUS/NZ - I believe the final to be released from the album. The album track "Kare Kare" was on the b-side.

    This has been the hardest song of all we have discussed for me to rate. I want to give it a 5/5 due to the eloquence and beauty of the lyric and the amazing circumstance of its recording. However, when I compare it to the other songs I've given this highest rating to, it doesn't quite reach me in the same manner. "She Goes On", for example, is another song about death - the death of a person as opposed to death in general - that touches me more than "Together Alone" does. I wonder if the presence of the Maori vocalists, drummers, and lyrics detract from the song for me to some small degree? They certainly aren't necessary in order to impart the emotional intent of the lyrics, but they do add greatly to the atmosphere of the song, especially considering where the recording took place. I'm not sure what it is, but I'm going to end up going with a 4.9/5.
     
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  12. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    Location:
    Vsetin
    haha!!! All that beautifully written apologetic build up and explanation, I thought you were going to give it, like, a blasphemous 2.6.
     
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  13. StefanWq

    StefanWq Forum Resident

    Location:
    Vallentuna, Sweden
    Right from its opening seconds, "Together Alone" the song is such a magnificent and majestic musical journey. It could so easily have been an overblown mess, with a full choir, log drummers and a brass band all contributing along with the band members, but it isn't. All involved play and sing with empathy and feel and as a listener you really hear what an incredible experience it must have been recording the song. In Chris Bourke's book it's described quite vividly how Mark worked hard to get the brass arrangement just right and he really did an amazing job. It truly captures that "Salvation Army at Christmas"-ish sound that Neil wanted and blends so naturally with the choir and the log drummers.
    Neil's lyrics, portraying both the warmth of a close relationship and the sadness of being apart (whether temporarily, because the persons are geographically far apart, or permanently, because a loved one has died), manages to express so much with relatively few words. It also fits well with the choir's words, singing the Maori myth of creation. Of course, when I just listen to the song, I don't understand the words but they sing with such feeling that it's reaching deep into the soul. When the lone female choir member sings (alone) around 2:20-2:27 it's heavenly, especially the melancholy of the last few seconds before the full choir joins in (together).
    The whole song has the atmosphere of being a funeral song for a loved one. A farewell, the final statement, an epitath. As it is the final song on the album, I remember thinking when the album new that it also sounded like Crowded House's own farewell song. In that sense, it makes me think of Dire Straits' poignant song "Brothers In Arms" from the album of the same name. The two songs aren't similiar as such, but they both have that "farewell song" feeling to them. Both bands would release more albums, but Together Alone would turn out to be Paul's final album with the band, and the final album of Mark I of the band. And it definitely closes the incredible Together Alone album in a way that sums up the musical and geographical world that the band shared with us listeners. I think even if they had stayed together, Paul not leaving, the band not breaking up in 1996, the next album would have been something different again. Recording at Karekare and giving us fans such a unique album was always going to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for all involved, I think.
    I never tire of listening to this marvelous song and album.
    5/5
     
  14. brownie61

    brownie61 Forum Resident

    Location:
    New Jersey
    Same for me. :)

    This has been a most enjoyable two weeks. I don’t think I’ve ever participated in a conversation quite like this before.

    I will be back again for a track by track for the Finn album.
     
  15. Squealy

    Squealy Forum Hall Of Fame

    Location:
    Vancouver
    Late again but.... it's closer to "The Fly" than "Until the End of the World."
     
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  16. Dept. 99

    Dept. 99 Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Columbus OH
    Together Alone is a very effective album closer. It feels like everything wrapping up. I love how the choir comes in right on the world “alone” and takes over with a sweeping chorus. Polynesian harmonies are different from Western ones. The chords here are sometimes unfamiliar but inviting.

    I do find the lyrics a bit simplistic but I listen to this less as a lyrical song and more as an encapsulation of time and place. The marriage of a Maori choir with a very English brass arrangement brilliantly showcases the dual musical heritage of New Zealand. It also brings to mind Neil’s fascination with family and community gatherings- as explored further on Won’t Give In.

    I’m conflicted about the applause ending. On the one hand it seems to lessen the impact of that last elated drumbeat. On the other hand it’s a great organic response that fits with the community feel.

    4.5/5
     
  17. Michael Rofkar

    Michael Rofkar Forum Resident

    Location:
    Santa Rosa, CA
    "Together Alone" is the near-perfect finish to a near-perfect album. The brass arangement, with its "Three Blind Mice" cadence, sounds as if it's played by an English colliery band.

    It's a bit redundant to have a second song end with log drums; I would prefer to end with the choir, but that's a minor quibble. 4.5/5
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2020
  18. Ryan Lux

    Ryan Lux Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto, ON, CA
    Amen. What a treat it is to find a group of fine people who enjoy something as much as you do. There's no one in my life that I get to geek out about Together Alone with. Pink Floyd sure, but not this. Cheers to all...
     
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  19. jcr64

    jcr64 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Indiana
    "Together Alone" is breathtaking in its beauty, simplicity, and emotional power. The lyrics are compact--they contain so much emotion in so few words. They are perfectly matched to the melody and arrangement. The choir sustains and deepens the mood even with lyrics that are unintelligible to the overwhelming majority of listeners. It is profoundly moving. But, as others have said, it's also somewhat dependent on context. It is a summation, a closing, a tying together of so much of what has gone before it on the album. It wouldn't carry the same emotional wallop on its own. As music has moved from the age of the album to the age of the individual song, this is something that we are losing. Even in the age of the album, however, this kind of closing was a rare thing indeed.

    The only thing that has ever bothered me about "Together Alone" was the abruptness of the ending. I was never sure how it might have ended better--certainly a fade-out would not have been an improvement. And then came the 2016 special edition, the eruption of genuine joy that both captures the magic of the album as a whole and provides a release from its numerous darker moments. I'm happy that we have both endings.

    I wish I could do a better job of putting into words the powerful emotions that this song, coming at the end of this album, stirs in me. This is genuine art.
     
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  20. Mooserfan

    Mooserfan Forum Resident

    Location:
    Allentown, PA
    I’m sorry to say I admire the title track of this album—a top 3 all-time record for me—more than I enjoy it. It is a work of art on many levels and is another gem in a catalog of them. But I would give it a 4/5 simply because it comes up a bit short...but not by much.

    Sorry I missed Catherine Wheels...that’s a 5/5 track for me.
     
  21. BeSteVenn

    BeSteVenn music hoarder

    Location:
    Kaskeland
    Together Alone ... seemingly simple, yet magnificent. It's passionate, heartfelt and elegant.

    Everything about it is beautiful, one of my 5 favorite Neil Finn songs, one of my favorite 25 songs of all time. 5/5
     
  22. I'll see all your talk of how much fun this thread has been for everyone and raise you accidentally rekindling some decades old (no exaggeration - 25 years) friendships when we accidentally collided in this thread!

    Lance is a hero.
     
  23. Otis82

    Otis82 Forum Resident

    Location:
    The Netherlands
    I can’t imagine this album without “Together Alone” as its closing track.

    4.6 / 5

    Thanks all for a very enjoyable two weeks... looking forward to more.
     
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  24. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    Location:
    Vsetin
    Yes I hear that even clearer.
     
  25. Lance LaSalle

    Lance LaSalle Prince of Swollen Sinus Thread Starter

    Location:
    Vsetin
    Our votes for "Together Alone"

    1-0
    2-0
    3-1
    4-2
    5-13
    Average: 4.6562
     
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