pour le monde

…let’s think about voices. For my generation there are many instantly recognisable speaking voices – the pure Englishness of an Olivier or a Coward, the nasal sneer of the wonderful Kenneth Williams, the bluff northern tones of Les Dawson, the spluttering innuendo of Frankie Howerd, the comforting countryman of the late great Jack Hargreaves (hands up for ‘How?’, how monumentally magnificent was that as an example of perfect childrens TV!), Fenella Fielding’s incredible husky chocolate whisper (listen to her dubbing of Anita Pallenberg’s character in ‘Barbarella’ and… well, just melt…). My list goes on and on…
When I think of singing voices, I have those that spring to my mind as definitive in their genre also – for ennui and disinterest personified, Lou Reed. For mystic hub cap diamond star cadillac fairyland it has to be Marc Bolan. John Lennon and his spiritual heir Liam Gallagher for their northern beat group wit and wisdom… Jeff Buckley for Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’, a perfect singer singing one of the most perfectly realised songs, the Jagger of 68-72, the best Mick Jagger ever, Tom Waits, always the best Tom Waits, Gillian Welch, the wisdom of centuries distilled into a vocal instrument of staggering beauty, John Fogerty, Roger McGuinn and Tom Petty, my mythical America personified… this is another list that will go on and on and on and on…
Today I realised who (for me) does sadness best. I listened to a track called ‘Silent House’. It’s a song about a person suffering from Alzheimers disease, and that person is the mother of the singer. The singer is Neil Finn, and it’s a track from the new Crowded House album, Time on Earth. It is, quite simply, profoundly moving, very beautiful and incredibly heartbreaking. The whole album is suffused with melancholy, mostly manifested in the magnificence of Finn’s voice and his eerily beautiful songwriting and arrangements. Sometimes modern songwriting can appear to be glossy production values propping up gossamer thin conceits, huge castles built on rapidly shifting sand. Not so with this incarnation of Crowded House. Please, seek out this album and listen to “Silent House” and “Pour le Monde” first. Listen several times, as the magic takes a little time to do it’s work.
I hope you will agree with me then.
Nobody does sad like Neil Finn.

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