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B.I.R. Column Of Fame
Man of Steel... Wood... and Mud: Bear Grylls
Rock Legend: Tom Morello

League Gods: The Emperor and Alfie

Str-8 Shoota: Malcolm X

Str-8 Shoota: Zack de la Rocha

Super Bad mofo's

Comrade Hillary

Friday, October 01, 2004

Something So Strong 

Nice little write up on our own expert song craftsman, Neil Finn at (to see the whole article, you have to subscribe; well worth it for this unabashedly left-wing internet current affairs site, which also happens to have two of the best movie critics around, Stephanie Zacharek and Charles Taylor). Obviously written by a fan, it is a heart-felt tribute to Finn's immaculate way with melodies and wistful, finely-tuned lyrics. To whit, the opening paragraph:

When Crowded House hit the charts in 1986 with "Don't Dream It's Over," a pop song with a melody as bracing as the wind, something in the familiar sound, a sensibility, anchored it in your jaded soul. On a second listen, wry fatalist William Burroughs seemed to have slipped a stanza into the three-minute tune.

Now I'm towing my car
There's a hole in the roof
My possessions are causing me suspicion
But there's no proof.

The existential jolt in the chart topper signaled just one of the marvels of the New Zealand trio's debut album. With songwriter and singer Neil Finn at the controls, the album featured 10 more catchy songs about distant fathers, lying poets, star-struck fans, black days, cold winters, tombstones, saints and the singer's "auntie," who goes the way of Virginia Woolf: "Left her car by the river, left her shoes beside." Clearly, Finn was an extraordinary songwriter. The pop hooks and harmonies, rock beats and rhythms, and his own ingratiating voice -- fearless, wistful, cynical, tender -- never struck a false emotional chord.

Notice the little error? The thing about "the New Zealand trio"? I'm not going to write in and correct him, are you? Can I make it four questions in a row?

Neil Finn and Crowded House almost ARE New Zealand for me now; all the Kiwis I meet over here have been filtered through so many international experiences, and there are the regional differences as well - Aucklander vs someone from the 'Naki like myself - but one mention of those two names and suddenly the national bond is reformed, conversations immediately wax lyrical about times we saw them/him live, road trips with Crowded House on the radio, their best songs (the author of the Salon piece, Kevin Berger, opts for Fingers of Love, whereas I'm more partial to Better Be Home Soon or Private Universe, and also the fabulous, half-improvised live version of Sister Madly found on the bonus disc to the Greatest Hits collection).

In fact, when I found out that not only Q but also NME despised Crowded House and Neil Finn, I stopped even bothering with taking any notice of their reviews. With NME, in particular, it crystallized for me just how snarky and committed to poserish notions of cool a lot of the music press in Britain are. But anyway..........just thought I'd draw your attention to the fact that New Zealand can still be recognized for more than Peter Jackson (is he a Sir yet? Oh yeah, we don't have them he a Master of Sweet As Accomplishments yet?)

I think Peter Jackson is Master of the Universe.
And I think Crowded House put out some of the most banal rubbish ever produced.
You've gotta listen to more music.

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