This week's boyfriend is the lead singer to a band that I refuse to be ashamed to love: Crowded House. You all remember them, right? Well, they're still around! And still led by the incredible voice of Neil Finn. Now, Neil's got his own solo album coming out (I heard something about the drummer from Soul Coughing being involved as well) but I don't know what to think about that yet. The band as a whole unit has always been the music I return to when I need something familiar, something to sing along with, something to make me feel better. But, instead of the usual boyfriend write-up, I've decided to put the introduction to the "Best of" compilation in here instead. It's not written by me, but it could've been. It says, in all the words and images I'd have to struggle to find, exactly what I feel.
British humourist Spike Mulligan once recalled how he was in the throes of a nervous breakdown. Alone in his bed and crying uncontrollably, he noticed his baby daughter walking towards his bed, arms outstretched. In her hand was a glass of water. She wanted to give something. Something to make it alright. This was all she could find. Awhile ago someone asked me to sum up the music of Crowded House. For some reason, I responded with that tale -- perhaps because it's simultaneously the saddest and most uplifting thing I've heard. Like Neil Finn's "Distant Sun." But then I'm sure many of you reading this could point to a different Crowded House song and relate similar testimonies.
When Neil was just a slip of a lad, he and his family would gather round the piano in Te Awamutu. The songs were the kind of singalong fare that gets wheeled out on such occasions. But the sheer ecstasy that takes hold when -- lost in a room full of voices -- you'd swear you've never felt this joyful, isn't something you forget in a hurry. Especially when it's complicated by an Irish Catholic upbringing and New Zealand's geothermal uncertainty.
Everything and nothing at all has changed since those days. If you've been to a Crowded House gig, you'll know that the family vibe is still very much intact. We get together; we sing the words; we laugh like drains; an avalanche of Frank Capra feelings overwhelm us. And once in a while, we shed a tear. Because we know too well that this dizzying love of life doesn't come without an attendant resentment of mortality. Perhaps that's what Neil means when he sings, "Cause I want you to know. . .that the world is a tangled up necklace of pearls."
Like their shows, Crowded House songs possess a defining moment that will stay with you forever. Sometimes it's hard to put your finger on it, but you certainly know when you've heard it. Remember how those otherworldly first chords to "Weather With You" chime into view, like a postcard from a dream? Only to be shot to pieces on the line "Things ain't cooking in my kitchen"? Ah well, you see, that's a Crowded House Moment. As indeed, is the chorus of "World Where You Live." That's why you won't be able to listen to it without grinning like a goon. Here's another one. "Four Seasons in One Day," when those ghostly harmonies converge upon Neil's voice like vultures to a carcass. If you're new to Crowded House, then I'm sure that in time you'll find your own Crowded House Moments. It's a personal thing. But if there's one thing that delights me more than hearing these songs, it's the thought that someone somewhere will be playing them for the first time. Welcome.
MacGyver Factor Score: 99.7%. "Seven worlds will collide, whenever I am by your side."