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Two things:
It's (currently) my favourite song, and I was wondering if other people like it too.
Secondly, would anyone like to tell me what they think it means? I haven't a clue, after listening to it a kazillion times, I still haven't got anywhere.
I know Neil likes his songs to be open to interpretation, but I'd like to know what you think.
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Originally posted by sinner_beginner:
[qb] I think it has a lot to do with journeys, and concepts of time, but as usual Neil Finn has stumped me when it comes to lyrics. Big Grin Absolutely brilliant song though. [/qb]
I'd agree, on all counts Smiler I've always read it the same way, and have also been a little obsessed about it. I also think it has to do with growing, not just growing up, but outward as well. Maybe even fair to say, expanding your horizons? I always get an ethereal sense of change, growth and exploration from the song that's a bit puzzling and hard to put into words, but nonetheless consistent every time.
Without wishing to play devil's advocate, is there ANYBODY on the Forum who dislikes the song? I've never liked it! I know that it's probably one of the most popular and best-known songs he ever worote, but I just never got into it, from the very first play of it back in 1993 Eeker Having said that I think it's not too bad in it's early stripped-back acoustic form (e.g. the 'Homebrew' version).
Distant Sun is one of my favourite songs too, not just of Neil's, but of anybody's. One of the things I enjoy about it is trying to figure it out Wink

My current thinking is that it's about having to listen to someone else talking about their problems, and not being able to help, even though you want to, because you don't understand. Next time I listen, I may decide it's about something else entirely Smiler
anselm that's blasphemous! almost as bad as me saying i dislike weather with u
I'm not expecting a single person to agree with me here! I know I'm on a hiding to nothing with this one. I've heard that song a hundred times (including many times at gigs), still can't see that it has the attraction of say, Hole In The River, especially live.
I've always loved the song. I don't know what "seven worlds collide" refers to exactly, but the chord change under that phrase is so dynamic it's almost as if you can see the planets exploding. The song also has some of my favorite NF phrases: "Still so young to travel so far / Old enough to know who you are"; "It's easy to forget what you've learned / Waiting for the thrill to return" and "I don't pretend to know what you want, but I offer love."
I like this song, too-my personal favorite part is when it changes up when it gets to "And I'm lying on the table...". And I also really like the chorus.

I agree with Kate A about it possibly dealing with a person growing up. And someone is reassuring them that they'll be there to help them through all this. Perhaps the dust from the sun falling on everyone is a way of saying that good things will befall them and everyone they know and love, 'cause the sun's usually associated with happiness, and it can also be sort of a "light at the end of the tunnel" thing, too.

I don't know what "seven worlds collide" refers to exactly
Maybe that's referring to all this growing up stuff, if the song is indeed about that, happening at once. Not sure why it'd be seven worlds doing this and not any other number, though.

Anselm - you disappoint me Razzer

Distant Sun is the greatest song in the world ever!! Big Grin

I've been trying to suss this for a while now, which is great really, because I never tire about it. In the process I tend to avoid the chorus to an extent (because personally the whole distant sun part doesn't always make real sense).

If you take the obvious choice that it's a love song then I always found that it made sense in that way - referring to the frustrations of love, and the times where you go through the rough patches ("No fire where I lit my spark/ I am not afraid of the dark") but that at the end of the day you don't give up because it's worth fighting for. And again "It's easy to forget what you learnt/ waiting for the thrill to return" suggesting that these things have happened before but that at the end of the day and that you promise each time it will get better and make the same mistakes again, but you will come through at the end because you did last time.

Thinking about the chorus, I can imagine the seven worlds collide part is a reference perhaps to the arguments in the love/relationship, in that there is an explosion of sorts, and the dust is a repercussion, if that makes sense!

Of course, I have also read somewhere ( perhaps?) that it could be about the break-up of Crowded House - though if I recall there were a number of songs for which that reason was suggested - although in a relationship sense perhaps it is? Anyone?!

On a personal level (again, ignoring the chorus to an extent), Distant Sun seems to describe every situation I have ever found myself in!

My alternative idea was that it was one of those days where Neil had to think of some words, and just wrote down what he was thinking about. And so, while each line makes perfect sense in isolation, perhaps it never had a "full" meaning!!!

Ah well, why should I care?! It brought me here after all!!! Big Grin Big Grin Big Grin
Why it doesn't so much for me:

When I first heard it, it was on the day of it's release in 1993 and after months and months of expectation, as I'd waited for what seemed like ages to hear the new single. I was expecting something extraordinary, something adventurous, something slightly unusual about it enough to make me really, really like it. A little bit like the first time I heard Chocolate Cake for instance, or even Kill Eye. From the opening bars, it disappointed me a bit. The whole structure of the song is a little too 'perfect', and too saccharine for me. It's almost like an excercise in 'how-to-write-a-radio-hit'. Commercial enough to be a big concert anthem, but not different enough to make it something that I'd really want to play and replay over time. Or shout out for at a gig Smiler

On the plus side, it's a beautifully constructed pop song, I agree. With that uplifting verse, a rising chorus, even a really good bridge, it's got a real immediate feel-good sound, a perfect humalong love song even for the casual or non-Finn fan, something which is perfect for ensuring a pure pop song. If I had to play just one Neil Finn song to introduce his style of music to a person who hadn't heard him before, then this is the one I'd choose as an example. Lyrically and musically, it's a great representation of his music and writing.

On the downside, it's just not 'challenging' enough to hold my interest for long. A couple of plays now and again, that's it...and then I've heard it enough. I think Neil has written far more interesting things, particularly Into Temptation, Fingers Of Love, Hole In The River, Private Universe and even more so since he's gone solo. I love the quirkiness of the Together Alone album, but it seems so out of place there. It sits much better amongst all the other catchy gems on Recurring Dream. My favourite songs are usually those which have that 'something different' quality, an edginess which makes me want to seek them out and play them over and over. Distant Sun just hasn't got that for me.

I know from reading this board these past few years that it's probably the most popular CH song, and I can absolutely understand why...a very easy to listen to song, with some killer hooks. People sometime personalise the lyrics to their own personal situations, and if that track means a lot to them, I'm not going to knock them for that...each to their own taste etc. So I'm not dismissing it without reason, just stating that I just don't have the attraction to it, despite being a fan of Neil's writing and music, throughout his career. It's all subjective I suppose - we all look for different things, that's the beauty of it.
I like it, but I think it's just up to your taste. There is no right or wrong answer. If it doesn't grab you, it doesn't grab you.

(I have just had this argument a few days ago, where friend accused me of being an uneducated heathen 'cause I don't like Eva Cassidy or Nick Drake. I just don't, I don't go round demanding everyone likes Doris Day, do I? Sorry, getting side tracked again...)

It's like me and Never Ceases to Amaze Me, I don't get why evryone hates it so much. I think it is groovy and such. Yes, it's a tad cheesy, but I like that.

I don't think you even need to give a reason, it either feels good or it doesn't.
Good post Anselm.

There's just something about Distant Sun that gets me every time. One day it means something, the next day it means something entirely different to me.

I have a friend who is crazy about music, loves a lot of music that really doesn't grab me - I can see that the stuff he chooses to listen to is very technically good, and probably really difficult to write and play (I am no musician so I think I lose a bit of understanding there), but we always differ because of our different angles.

When it comes to Together Alone, I always felt I had two favourite songs anyway. There was Distant Sun, of course, which always had a deep emotional personal impact on me; and secondly Fingers of Love, because I love it in an entirely different way, perhaps more musically than lyrically. My friend thinks I put too much emphasis on lyrics btw, but that's what works for me! I don't think it's the best song Neil has ever written (or co-written), but it is by far my favourite. Smiler
I'm with Anselm, I never really understood why people like DS that much. I don't hate it, but to give an example; if Neil and Tim would play only one (Tim-less) Crowded House song this next European tour and be it Distant sun, I would be disappointed.

When I think about it... This is one of the few songs I never sing along with when I listen to it.

IMHO it is also one of the most unsurprising songs on Together alone, the others are a bit more experimntal. Distant sun is too clean, also in comparison to the rest of their "repertoire".
I wasn't around in 1993 to have heard it as the new single (I was 11 then), but I completely understand Anselm when he wanted to hear the new single and was dissapointed when that was Distant sun. It just isn't really ecxiting in my opinion.

It does have that something spcial that a lot of Neil's song have though. Something hopefull and "up".
I reacted similarly to Anselm; again the anticaption of new material after the belated UK success of Woodface meant any new Crowded House material was sacred.

I did not like Distant Sun at first, the start seemed too bitty and full of bits not seeming linked, but after a lot of listening it is up there in my CH top 5 songs. I still like the mystery of the lyrics, but especially the one line about another persons thoughts: 'I don't pretend to know what you want, but I offer love'.

It definitely has a great structure, with great verses and the chorus, most of all the chaos of Neil's vocal ramblings at the end, which the US CD single remix helps to clear up a little bit (there is little different in the remix and the version the rest of the world knows).

But, and the but is, there isn't a lot of story or sense in the lyrics which i can see could be off putting. But I like songs that don't give 100% of the meaning anyway Smiler
wow! that was great...

well I personally have a theory for the
"seven worlds collide" line (my favourite) but I dunno if it's any good.

I've ntoiced this in myself. At home, I'm a totally different person than at school. Then, I'm different again at my grandparents, and different again with my friends.I think it kinda fits into the "growing theory"

As you grow, you kinda "shed" alter egos, they sorta merge into one. Many "grown-ups" "get rid of" or bury their silly selves, and become all professional and dignified. they only let their silly side show occasionally to people they are close to.

But, not being grown up, that theory could be shot to pieces by you grown up people here...

Oops, I forgot to mention where the seven worlds collide whenever I am by your side...

Maybe "you" can't decide which of your alter egos "you" want to be with "I"
One of the best songs Neil has ever written. I was stoked to see it performed this year on the Australian Finn Brothers show in Melbourne.

I think the song is about maturity and moving forth, growing up etc...

I'm guessing the song was written for his son Liam who probably would have been on the threshold of becoming a teenager. Observe the lines:

"...still so young to travel so far, old enough to know who you are, wise enough to carry the scars without any blame- there's no one to blame".

As someone who is at their last year of being a teenager, I can relate immensely to these lyrics. At the age of 13, my parents expected me to be more open minded about the world despite my sheltered upbringing. I learned a lot of lessons about taking on board things about myself and looking in the mirror before passing on blame or criticism to others.

Also, the lines

"...dust from a distant sun...."
I think this line works well in the metaphorical sense of maturity. Not everyone grows up as they should (if there is a certain way people should mature), Neil sings is as though although we're all different, we will all be sprinkled with some sense of belonging and understanding in our world.

Just a thought.

I'll chime in. For me, it's a song about me and my wife of 29 years. It's a song about what happens to a man and woman after many years together. It's not always good; in fact, it's not infrequently bad (your seven worlds collide; your words devour my heart, put me to shame).  It can be heartbreaking (waiting for the thrill to return). But you stick it out.  I make (many) mistakes; I can be annoying (so can you).  But I offer love.  In the end, that's all that matters.

I also don't particularly like this song. I don't dislike it but I've never put it on 1-track repeat like I do with 'black & white boy' or 'fingers of love'!

I thought the 2016 live version was good though 🙂.

I really feel for Mark on 1996 farewell concert. I'm sure he would have wanted to say, "can I have another go at it!?" at the end.

As for what it means, on farewell dvd commentary, Neil admits he isn't too sure what the song means!! So at least he is as confused as some of us are!

If you ask me, What's your favourite Crowded House song,  it changes over time. But, Distant Sun was certainly it for a long time. For me the lyrical hook is

"Still so young to travel so far
Old enough to know who you are
Wise enough to carry the scars
Without any blame, there's no one to blame"

Which is one of those universal lyrics that resonates with anyone struggling with finding their place in the world. Add an amazing chorus,  with seemingly nonsensical but spiritual lyrics and I was (and still am) hooked.

Neil's lyrics are often impressionistic and to me at least, phrases pop out and hit me in "the feels", while being combined with his amazing grasp of chord and melody.  I think that is his genius,  and long may it continue.

Hello all,

“Distant Sun” is magnificent.  It’s not just a top-5 Crowded House song for me…it’s very high on my all-time favorites list.  Thanks to HawkeyePierceNeilfan for starting the conversation about this brilliant song.

As much as I love it, I can see why it might be overlooked.  It’s got that classic midtempo, slow-build format that CH does so well, and I suspect there are people who probably feel it just doesn’t have enough spark to hold their attention for almost four minutes.  In all honesty, the mix on the studio version probably doesn’t do the song any favors.  It doesn’t have a lot of energy at first.

But for whatever small faults it might have, this song has one thing that any songwriter would die to find…a timeless melodic hook.  The melody is gorgeous, and it complements the lyrics so well.  I love how well Nick’s bassline drives the song forward.  I love the layers of 12-string and tremolo guitars.

The song isn’t perfect; I admit that I’ve never appreciated the “like a Christian fearing vengeance from above” line.  As a Christian, this line has always been a curious one for me, because the God I was taught about is loving…not vengeful.  I guess I’ve tried to rationalize it by assuming that Neil’s frame of reference (former Catholic) is different than mine, and he’s perhaps writing about a more Old Testament-type world view.

Still, I can't forget another line from this song: “I don’t pretend to know what you want but I offer love.”  Regardless of whether you love the song or not, that’s a fantastic line.

My favorite version of “Distant Sun” is a brief one.  Back around 1993, the band appeared on Good Morning America and played “Distant.”  It was messy but glorious.  You kids today won’t be able to relate, but way back then, the only news we got about coming music releases by our favorite bands appeared in printed documents called magazines.  If we were VERY lucky, our favorite bands might get a mention on MTV News, which was part of a cable television networks that, at the time, played music videos.  We’d wait months…years…for any kind of hint that our favorite bands were releasing new music.  So, when we heard that CH was getting a prime showcase on a national morning show, it was a HUGE deal.  And the news that they had a new album…and a new band member in Mark…was amazing.  Watching the clip now, it's hard to get a real sense of how special it was 30 years ago.


My favorite version of Distant Sun was on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno back in '93.  For my money the best ever live TV performance by the band.  Neil in magnificent voice and the whole band on fire.  Love Paul Hester's shouts of encouragement to Neil towards the end - he knew they'd nailed it.

Agreed, I've watched this about 200 times. It's actually from March of 1994. They were truly at their peak, firing on all cylinders, they just had absolute confidence. (And sadly, it was not very long before Paul quit I believe). I would even go so far as to say it's one of the best performances on a "late night" show I've ever seen. Those tend to be difficult gigs and even good bands can fall flat in that format, but they slayed it.

Last edited by slowpogo

To me it sounds like a conversation with a much loved child who is growing into adulthood. Exploring their values and expanding their life experience. “I don’t pretend to know what you want, but I offer love” is what a parent might say. And the cosmic reference might refer to the power of the interaction between a father and his offspring. As always, brilliant lyrics from Neil Finn.

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