Colin Hay…

“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.

14 thoughts on “Colin Hay…

  1. You know it’s a funny thing but I confess that quite often I think of the players in a band as players in THAT band and forget about them when they go solo. I even to some extent did this with the Beatles. So yeah, I knew about Hay and that he had gone solo. But I haven’t listened to anything he did. Still haven’t but just an acknowledgment that I’ll add his stuff to the “to-listen” list. I try to keep that list from growing but it’s hard, especially when people recommend albums that I want to listen to. Good kind of problem to have I suppose.

    • Yeah I know what you mean. I think it’s a natural enough thing, to always connect someone to the band they were in… but here’s a question; if they end up doing more solo albums than they ever did in that band, when does the solo career become the leading part of the narrative?
      Hay is one example but I just heard Paul Weller (not really a fan) has a new album out… he must have done more solo than both with Jam and Style Council combined…. but they’re still ‘solo’ albums

  2. You surprised me with this one. I love these songs. Colin is the real deal as a songwriter. I sat across from him in a cafe in St Kilda, Melbourne one morning many moons ago. He’s a pretty charming guy.

    • Surprised?
      Oh yeah? To be honest I’d struggle to believe he wasn’t a top bloke to be honest, he seems like a pretty humble, laid back fella these days

      • I’m not surprised you like him, just a little surprised he was on your radar. these days we (Melbournians) think of him as a local celeb rather than an international one.

  3. So this is one that caught my eye when I looked at your takes. I have two Hay solo albums, ‘Looking For Jack’ and ‘Wayfaring Sons’. The cuts above just confirm he is consistent in his music. He’s good! The first cut reminded me why I like him. Great stuff! Setting off so many bells.

    • Yeah I’ve got just a couple – Transcendental Highway and Going Somewhere – there’s just such a nice, chilled vibe and consistency to it really. No denying he’s got a skill for a hook

      • I’ll be adding more of Collin’s stuff to the pile for sure. ‘Beautiful World’ sounded a little like his countryman Paul Kelly. There’s a bunch of this type of music I got into. A little off the beaten track. Are you familiar with Andy White? I have a couple albums of his that I enjoy. I’ll drop by for more later. CB

      • ‘Out There’ and ‘Himself’ are the 2 White albums I have and I really dig both of them. Palace Full of Noise and Just Jumped Out of a Tree are good cuts to give you a taste. ‘Under the Sun’ by Kelly and the cut, To Her door is a good taste. I found a lot of Springsteen similarities in his music. See what you started with your Hay take. Great choice giving Colin some ink.

  4. Pingback: I Remember You | Cincinnati Babyhead

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