I’ve wanted to do a Neil Finn piece since day one. It took me something like eight years to finally get around to it, but here he is! I’ve got a hefty list somewhere of similar ideas saved for later. Things I felt too daunted to approach then. Now I know of course that you just have to do it or you’ll never do it.
My introduction to Split Enz was an attraction to their unique blend of proggy strangeness and pop accessibility. The poppiness got a huge boost when baby Neil Finn got on board, and the Finn brothers together are like candy for the ears. The band’s exciting visual aesthetic, courtesy of spoon-playing hero Noel Crombie, has been permanently ingrained into my brain’s palette.
As for Neil Finn, well, what can I say? One of my absolute favorite vocalists ever. There’s just something about a soulful belter. See also: Glenn Tilbrook, Cyndi Lauper, etc. But as if the killer voice weren’t enough, there’s also his songwriting. Devastatingly emotive but not sickly sweet, with an edge and a rawness.
Some of my other favorite bands imploded or fizzled out. Split Enz had the wisdom to call it a day on their terms, which is the best you can ask for. “I Walk Away” is a beautiful song that you can mold to just about any adversity in your own life and have it fit just perfectly. Neil did the tune with Crowded House after the Enz closed out with it. Both versions are brilliant, but the driving, syncopated, hiccuping Split Enz version (with Noel’s fingerprints all over the promo video) especially slays me. It’s such a lovely way to say so long.
“Reveal whatever you desire.
To you it may death defying.
Your life a slave to ambition.
Tension your permanent condition.
So much you’ve always wanted.
Too much giving you a sore head.
Finally marching to a different tune.”