Crowded House were a band that were more about running than standing still. Which is why it’s so difficult to define or describe their music.
There was a certain impetus about what they did. Neil Finn remembers that at their very first rehearsal, at Factory Sound in South Melbourne, they came up with ‘Recurring Dream’ – one of their most loved live staples, and which kicks off Crowded House LIVE ’92-’94 Part 2.
Through the years, Neil (full name: Neil Mullane Finn), jumped from project to project, from solo to duo to various collectives. Crowded House was never about polishing what they achieved but tinkering with the parts and working out how to make them evolve to the next reel. It made them indispensable.
Nick Seymour once described the making of one of their tracks as “a jigsaw puzzle”. In many ways that description could be applied to all, if not, most Crowded House tracks.
In the liner notes of the Crowdies’ greatest hits set, Recurring Dream, journalist Peter Paphides tells of the times when the late British comic Spike Milligan was having a nervous breakdown, lying on his bed crying uncontrollably, when his baby daughter came to him carrying a glass of water.
The journalist wrote, “She wanted to give something. Something to make it alright. This was all she could find.
“A while 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 ever heard.”
‘Fall At Your Feet’, one of the stand-outs of the Woodface album, is a radio, talent quest and karaoke favourite and been covered by many artists.
It’s seamless pop but it came together in the studio from the fragments of two songs that the band was having difficulty with. This was the song that Seymour described as a “jigsaw”.
On the SBS documentary series Greatest Australian Albums, Finn described what he was trying to achieve with the song: “It was really that moment post a conflict or a struggle, when you sense a great sadness in the person you’re with … where you want to offer yourself as some kind of sounding board or a weeping wall. You want to take all their sadness, especially if you’ve been responsible for some of it.”
With lines like “The finger of blame has turned upon its self and I’m more than willing to offer myself. Do you want my presence or need my help. Who knows where that might lead?”, Crowded House fans remain divided on whether it was about Neil’s elder brother Tim who left the band midway through a UK tour, or drummer Paul Hester who would take his life in a Melbourne park after the band split.
Another hotly-debated line is the relevance of the address 67 Mt Pleasant Street in ‘Weather With You’. When we asked Neil how many of his songs started at the house, he replied, “Every city has a Mt Pleasant St but I’ve never lived in one.”