“All around is anger, automatic guns
Death in large numbers, no respect for woman, or our little ones
I tried talking to Jesus, but he just put me on hold
Said he’d been swamped by calls this week
And He could not shake his cold…”
This was going to be another instalment in the “Tracks” series I started sometime ago -and have added to sporadically since -about Colin Hay’s ‘Beautiful World’. Except that every time I listen to ‘Beautiful World’ I end up cueing up another Colin Hay song and another… so I thought I’d have a bit of a ramble about and around the fella and his music. Or the bits of it that I know / like at least.
You see and there’s something so mellow and addictively charming about Colin Hay’s work that it’s something of a go-to when I feel the need to chill a bit and feel the air going in… and out… It’s also something of an uncomplicated palate cleanser as I wind down after the Springsteen marathon. He’s a bloody fine acoustic player and has a way with a song that’s both simple and affecting as well as a fair bit of humour. Perhaps it’s also the Australia connection to it that I enjoy like so many other things from Down Under.
Born in Scotland before moving to Australia with his family when he was in his teens, Colin Hay is perhaps best known to many for the pop-rock / new wave band he formed with his new mates; Men At Work. Aside from their ubiquitous hit ‘Down Under’, Men At Work rode the wave of interest in all things antipodean in the 80’s and scored international hits with songs like ‘Who Can It Be Now?‘ and ‘Overkill’ – of which Colin Hay would make a cracking acoustic version during his solo career:
Which is probably how Colin Hay solo found a larger audience courtesy of his playing it throughout an episode of ‘Scrubs’. Hay went solo after Men At Work called it quits in 1985, his first album on his own following a couple of years later. Like all band leaders who go solo, it took him a while to find his own way, as Wikipedia has him saying: “After Men at Work, for the better part of a decade, I was stumbling around being unfocused. It was pre-internet, I really had to try to find my audiences by going out on tour. Men at Work really didn’t build a foundational audience. We came in as a pop band with enormous radio success; once that goes away and the band breaks up the audience tends to go away with it. You’re left with what you want to make of it. ”
Another Zach Braff vehicle – the 2004 film ‘Garden State’ – is where I, and I’m sure countless others, first became aware of Colin Hay, though. The film and its high selling (1.3 million copies) soundtack features Hay’s haunting ‘I Just Don’t Think I’ll Ever Get Over You’:
The song itself is from Hay’s 1998 album and my favourite of his, Transcendental Highway. It’s on this album – and it’s predecessor Topanga – that Hay really finds his voice as a solo artist. He even manages – with ‘My Brilliant Feat‘ – to muse on his former success and current situation; “A jack to a king and back, then you have to pay to play”. There’s not a bad tune on it and every album since has been what I’d call ‘solid’ to ‘pretty bloody good actually’, each delivering a few nuggets to add to the iPod at least. Occasionally bordering on ‘adult contemporary’, more often acoustic with wry lyrics and always offering proof that Mr Hay has a way of creating a catchy tune.
So, along with those included above I think I’d also give a shout out to those tunes gathered below.