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Hey all...

I was sitting down with a big glass of milk (chocolate) on my back verandah the other day, having a think about stuff and things....mostly stuff, and I started thinking about how the Finns...I think, have kinda slipped into the world of not really doing anything except making music for the already excisting fan base. Its a bit of a trap these days....it might have something to do with the record companys, but it seems like they're just not really winning any new fans....or making music thats really relevant anymore. This goes for my beloved tim as well....or it did....until the classic Feeding The Gods came out.
Neils last album was pleasant enough, but im pretty sure its only the CH fans that are buying it. I guess as long as the people that listen to it like it then thats all that matters....really.... but the fact that sales are lower, and no charting singles might indicate that for everyone other than an existing fan, they're music is pretty much redundant.

Is this just my crazy thinking, like Im sure you people will all say it is. I hope so.

I think the dream is over. it was good while it lasted though....jolly good!

Donovan.

p.s. I had a peanut yesterday. kinda tasted like it should've.

p.p.s. everyone should go do something random....like buy a watermelon for a homeless guy!
Original Post
Unfortunately, I have to agree (not unfortunate that I have to agree WITH YOU - but that I think its true!).

This goes for a lot of 30-something plus artists though: there are a lot of records that are selling to the converted and not going further. I think though, that its because they ALREADY gone through that phase.

A bit like relationships where you start off full of passion and then it levels out to something stronger but less all-encompassing.

CH / Tim have already gone through the "converting the masses" phase which, incidentally, is more than most achieve, and are now into musical mid-life, where the relationship is established and there isn't the need or urge to go out and make new friends.

As long as Neil/Tim still have a market that buys, listens and appreciates, that's all that matters. Although it would be nice to see them get the commercial recognition we all think they deserve (but isn't that true of EVERY artist?)...
I must disagree with the "redundant" part of it, Donovan. I think that if you can develope a stlye as unique as Neil's and keep writing music true to that style that is still beautiful and pure, then you've won the hard hard battle of songwriting. Now that is just my humble opinion, but as a songwriter hopefully on the road to something good, I would love to be in Neil's place 20 years from now.
Call it biased, but there is something wonderfully universal about Neil's music within the music fan community. I find that people who generally have a good taste in music (not just by my standards, but by the general standards of music that entails good in and out) will either already love Finn or learn to accept and love them. So, that may all be jumbled sounding, but that's what I think.
Donovan,

I've been reading your posts here and elsewhere on the forum and, no offence, but I'm starting to picture you as one of the two old guys who sit in the balcony on The Muppet Show and complain about everything. Wink

But seriously, I think you have a point about them not winning any new fans. However I think it has less to do with anything they're doing or not doing and much more about the sorry state of the music industry at this point in time. I'm sorry, but BRITNEY SPEARS? If you can't write music, play an instrument or even carry a tune without having your voice run through a thousand filters, you have no business being at the top of the charts.

I also think they've seen the whole crazy side of the music industry and I don't blame them for wanting no part of it. And while I think they definitely have a style, I'd hardly call it redundant. Plenty of great artists, musicians and writers have styles... and exlore themes, and repeat important details as a way of re-inventing them. That's hardly redundant. There is beauty in patterns, and patterns aren't patterns unless they repeat.

As a visual artist, I have to work on art or I go crazy. But I don't sell it in galleries or strive to be in art history textbooks. It's just something I have to do, like breathing or sleeping. And, for me, I'd much rather have a few people who really appreciate my art for what it is than millions who are interested in it because it's popular or valuable or because they want to be seen with me or whatever.

When I see Neil and Tim perform, that is the sense I get from them. Not making music would be for them like not breathing. And they don't do it for you or me or the record companies or anyone else. It's just what they have to do. If you found Neil's last album just "pleasant" you certainly have a right to that opinion, but I know I've been converting a lot of non-fans lately with that merely "pleasant" album... all of whom say "why can't you hear music like this on the radio?"

The dream is far from over, in my opinion... which I know has already been dismissed because I'm a CH fan. But that's fine, it means it will be easier for me to get to the front row of all their shows while those of you who think the dream is over sit home and turn the dial of the radio, hoping to find something not redundant.
There are hundreds of artists out there who put out great music, but alas, we will never hear them because radio only plays a limited scope. There are not enough markets that get college radio, which is truly the last frontier... I heard "DMM" 2 times on WXRT right when Neil played in Chicago. That is not enough to sell a record. I have not heard a Tim song (not counting Split Enz) EVER on the radio, although oddly enough I have heard "Fraction Too Much Friction" at the grocery store once. Limited airplay=limited sales. I would say that industry insiders are VERY aware of the Finns, and that they are held in high esteem. I would dare to say that both Neil and Tim are putting out music that deserves to be enjoyed, and they are keeping their standards high.
I guess it depends on what you mean by “relevant”
To me relevant means someone who is true to themselves and their art. Someone that does not make music to be popular, they make music because they have to express themselves in an artistic way. I think that both Neil and Tim do this. I think that that when they make an album, they would love it to be heard by as many people as possible, but they also have to make something that is true to their artistic vision.
Again what do you mean by relevant? If by relevant do you mean someone that stretches themselves as an artist? I don’t mean this as a slam here, but you were the one who didn’t seem to like “Try Whistling This”. I think that album is partly a conscious effort by Neil to go beyond the pretty pop songs he was recording with Crowded House. If that’s not good enough for you, what is? Do you want Neil to venture into rap, dance or heavy metal?
I do believe that Tim’s latest album is great, I also think that Neil’s latest album is. Tim has had more time to work on his solo career. I can’t wait to hear what Neil will come up with as he continues with his solo albums.
Here in the US we are used to not hearing a lot from Neil and Tim. I’m not sure what it’s like in the rest of the world. Haven’t both Tim and Neil been a huge influence on other artists in New Zealand and Australia? I think that makes them both “relevant.”
Are you saying that they are redundant just because they are not charting singles? Unfortunately, being hugely popular usually means being mediocre in my opinion, except for the few pop gems and artists that “accidently” get played every once in a while. If Neil and Tim decide to venture into mediocrity just to sell a few singles, they will lose even their most devoted fans.
It seems like pure pop craft with intelligence is lost on the general public and that's their loss. If being redundant means writing songs that are pure pop masterpieces, then give me redundant any day.

That was fun! Smiler
It does appear that the most popular (that is, the ones who sell the most records) artists are those who only perform other people's material. But there are still lots of artists who do write and play their own stuff. And longevity isn't really the issue---the Stones and Paul McCartney just played here recently to sold-out audiences. I think it's just a carry-over to the fact that our lads never really did make a big splash here in the States, so there's no "buzz" when they release a new album.

Aren't we the clever bunch though, that we recognise such immense talent?

vch
I agree with all the comments made about being true to one's art, and using that as a definition of "relevant" but I think the point that Donovan was getting at is that Neil and Tim aren't making music that is "current", has a contemporary feel or is likely to appeal to today's music listeners.

I agree that commercial success is more an arbiter of promotion and marketing than talent, but I think the point was that neither of them are making music that - for better or worse - is considered relevant to today's audience. As I said before, this isn't necessarily a criticism, and most definately shouldn't be a reason to stop, just a comment.

Songs like DDIO and Weather With You captured a mood that was relevant to the times. Certainly in the UK WWY struck a chord with a lot of people because of its cheary, happy vibe as we emerged from winter. I think we could argue that several of Neil's songs (I'm less familiar with Tim's catalogue) also strike chords with us, and the issue of commercial success is as much due to good luck and marketing as anything else.

I think my conclusion is that Neil and Tim probably do still make records that are "relevant" to some (ie, us), but aren't being recorded in a way that is likely to strike a chord with the general music buying public. Which is their loss.
quote:
Originally posted by Paul H:
[qb]I think the point that Donovan was getting at is that Neil and Tim aren't making music that is "current", has a contemporary feel or is likely to appeal to today's music listeners.[/qb]
I'd like to make two points:

1. How anyone can not consider Tim's SIIS and FTG albums contemporary enough amazes me. Big Wave Rider, Shiver, Roadtrip and Underwater Mountain from SIIS all sounded/still sound pretty fresh to me and lots of people I know. Pretty much everyone who has reviewed Tim's FTG album has called it his best album since Split Enz's prime, his best album ever, a reinvention of his sound. "Feeding The Gods" is one of the most relevant albums you could wish to hear.

As for Neil? The guys just released a live album playing with members of Pearl Jam, Betchadupa Radiohead, Tim and more. How the **** much more relevent or current do you want the guy to be? Or have Pearl Jam, Betchadupa and Radiohead suddenly stopped being relevent/current in the past 30 seconds too.

2. Tim and Neil Finn, whether you think their latest music releases are relevent/current or not are doing something much more important anyway. Tim for thirty years and Neil for twenty five, have been writing and recording music that is for the most part timeless.

Whilst what people like: Britney Spears, N Sync and all the rest of those so called relevent/current artists release this year will sound dated in five years time. What Neil and Tim release this year will still be classics and timeless in thirty years time.

Besides everything i've just said. At the end of the day a song or album is either good or it isn't. Tim wouldn't have lasted thirty years doing what he did if people didn't think he was good at it. Likewise with Neil and his twenty five.
Sorry to beat a dead horse Wink :

I also agree with Jeremy, Neil and Tim’s music is timeless - when have they ever really been “current” sounding? The only time I can think of is the late 70’s early 80’s. Many people have said on this forum how some of those songs from Split Enz sound like they came from the 80’s. They are dated at least in sound (meaning "New Wave") to that time.
I don’t think Crowded House have ever sounded dated and I think the very reason for this is because never sounded like any of the “current’ music of the time. Take any of those songs and plop them in a different era, they are not going to sound “dated”. Again, they are timeless. I think it is easy to jump into whatever the “current” fad is in music. It is much harder to make music that is timeless and can sound good in any era. And, for whatever reason, Crowded House became hugely popular then. Why Neil and Tim are not still hugely popular, I don’t know. I don’t believe it is because their quality of music is any less, I think it gets better all the time.
Again, I guess I don’t really understand how you are describing “relevant”. If you are describing it as being popular in today’s culture, at least in the US, the most popular music right now is Rap, Dance and Hard Rock. So that would mean that Neil and Tim would have to venture into these kinds of music to be relevant. You know how ridiculous that would be? Why should they completely change their style just to sell a few more records? I just don’t get it! Neil and Tim are not going to go suddenly into high rotation on MTV and be on TRL, they just aren’t! With the way the music biz is today, the focus is on very young performers and what is most popular to teenagers. What a teenager listens to is not going to be relevant to me and what I listen to is not going to be relevant to them. It sounds to me like you are saying that when you are over 30, you are a has-been. Maybe us people over 30 should just shrivel up and die.
I also think it is being implied that Tim and Neil are complacent and are just churning out records now. I know that I just recently read an article from a couple years ago where Neil was talking about One Nil and how excited he was by it. He loved all the “colors” in the sounds on the album. It didn’t sound to me like someone who was just sitting back and putting out another record to appease his fans. He was trying to create something beautiful, which I think he did. If Neil wanted to be complacent he could have stayed with Crowded House and kept making records with them. Instead he chose to venture out on his own and write and perform with different artists. I have a feeling that he wanted to be challenged in that way, that doesn’t sound to me like someone who is sitting back and trying to be comfortable.
If Neil and Tim were truly complacent they would just sit back and not record anymore. Then in 10 years or so they could do various reunion tours with Split Enz and Crowded House where they just play the oldies. They wouldn’t be sweating and toiling in their studios putting out and creating new albums every couple years, then going out and busting their asses on tour trying to promote them.
What makes music relevant?

To me the biggest irrelevance is radio's insistence on playing "oldies" music. Much as I am a fan of music from years gone by, I believe music is only truly relevant in its own time.

Case in point - I am a huge Beatles fan and love the Sgt Pepper album to death. Is it relevant in 2002? No. Was it relevant in 1967? You bet it was. It reflected (and influenced) its time.

I would argue that One All reflects its time and is a relavent album. Its not on the level of a Pepper (or OK Computer) where it captures the imagination of large numbers of people, but it still sounds relevant to me. Better examples might be Coldplay's latest, Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, Flaming Lips' Yoshimi . . . . I'm sure everyone has records that encapsulate what's *now* and what isn't.

The Finn album was relevant when it came out. But that was 6 or 7 years ago now. Is it relevant to 2002? Nup. I *love* it as an album but its time has passed.
quote:
Originally posted by Donovan:
[qb]have kinda slipped into the world of not really doing anything except making music for the already existing fan base. Its a bit of a trap these days...[/qb]
the average popularity of an artist is almost always parabolical (goes up then down). think about it, how is it possible to sustain stardom. the only way anyone has done it is by reinventing themselves, and when neil tried doing something different from the CH sound, people started complaining.

this topic pops up every once in a while and i still think the main thing is, neil and tim are songwriters, and if you want to make money as a songwriter you have to just make a couple hits, after that you can do it for FUN and ENJOYMENT which is what i think both of them are in it for at this point.

somebody probably already said all this stuff.
Hold on a mo, guys.

Jeremy, I'm not knocking Neil or Tim for not being "current" - that's what I like about them too. Remember, I'm here because I adore the music these guys make. Got all the records, seen them more times than is good for me Smiler got more bootlegs than my poor bookcase can handle. I also wholeheartedly agree that their music and sound is timeless and, again, this is one of the things that make them great.

I certainly don't want them trying nu-metal or whatever - heaven forbid. My point was simply, that yes their music has that timeless quality but it is also what makes them less relevant to any particular time. Albums like OK Computer are widely regarded as being "classic" because not only do they reflect the times, but they struck a chord with a lot of people. Even an album like What's The Story Morning Glory brilliantly encapsulated the mood of the time in the UK. Oasis's latest certainly doesn't do that and isn't as "relevant" but that doesn't make it a better or worse album.

I'm not knocking the Finns at all - rather, I'm offering praise - I'm just saying I agree that their music doesn't capture the public's imagination any more. Certainly not in the way I think it should. Shame on the public, really Smiler
Hmmmm....good discussion.

I think Paul H seems to get what I was trying to get at....if that makes any sence.

Is Sgt Pepper relevant today? .....i think so! Because I feel, and a lot of my friends feel that pretty much any music by the beatles from Rubber Soul onwards is still very influencial to upcoming bands. A lot of the music from that era still is.

Im sure CH was very influencial in its time.....i actually know that it was, and still is to some people. But now days the only people they're influencing, are bands that really arnt going to do much anyway. Sad but true....and it shouldnt be the case, because a good song is a good song no matter what. I love CH.....believe it or not. And tim finn is just god! But my band isnt at all influenced even in the slightest by either of them, and either are any of the new exciting bands popping up....the few that are.

Crowded House is a band of its time, that time is over. Sadly. The music is still there, and its still good. but.....not relevant.

As for the 7 worlds collide gig....Sorry to disagree with you Jeremy Loder....but what was so current about that? They all played old songs....Eddie vedder and pearl jam arnt really setting the music world alight these days, the radiohead boys were just session musicians...it was a great gig, no doubt. But it was all about reminising (spelling?). The only music I heard that was still of any current value were the old smiths tunes. good stuff!

Anyway, I should re-read these things before I post but Im too lazy.

hope it makes sence.

Donovan.

p.s. French toast please!

p.p.s. Whoever compared me with the old guys in the muppets....cool!! I love those guys! haha
Well I agree with Donovan's last post to a degree, but I also have to say that...

At my age (40)most of the relevant, not to mention cool, music I listened to when I was younger was being created by people like Peter Gabriel, Kate Bush, Finns, Madonna even, etc., none of whom saw a great deal of air play (like Nirvana or NSync). Consequently, their music had great significance for me. So the music I'm listening to now is still along the same lines, and as these artists have grown older also, their music is STILL relevant, to me.
Yes, the delicious young girls and boys who screech thru the air waves nowadays will probably not be creating epic works when they are in their 40's.
So, basically i feel sorry for the youngsters who are growing up on this bubblegum and being brainwashed.

I guess it comes down to the fact that you have to have an appreciative ear for music and not care what the age of the person is who's making it. I mean, Fiona Apple is really good and she's practically a child. The fact is, Good music seldom takes precedence over the bad music/pretty face icon, in this, our video generation.

Yes indeed , don't we feel smug in our good taste.
The music is certainly relevant, although it will never reach mass appeal again, especially in the U.S., unless some giant record company decides it is to be so, throws tons of money into promotion and sees to it that they are played heavily on the radio. Payola is alive and well my friends, and the single is dead. So hits are dictated by a select few at the top. Most radio stations, even in the same market, are owned by a handful of companies.
It's really a shame - not just for the Finns, their music and their fans - both real and POTENTIAL, but for any act that - had they come on the scene at a differet time - say the 70's, would have probably had an equal chance at "making it".
The following came to me off the Tongue in the Mail Digest.....i'm posting it here but i haven't checked the WFUV website yet.

WFUV in New York (which can be streamed live via
their web site, [URL=http://www.wfuv.org)]www.wfuv.org)[/URL] will be presenting
a Neil and Tim Finn Day, all day, on Thursday,
November 14. It will feature Split Enz, Crowded
House, Finn Bros. and solo material.
I don't think this issue of relevance has much to do with music and thats the whole problem. Its tied up in everything else...image, controversy, knowing the right people, etc.
The Finns have never been considered 'cool' which unfortunately has always held them back to a certain degree. They've never been mega controversial. If they never had it back in their 20s they're hardly gonna have it in middle-age. The music shouldn't really be an issue. They write songs about things that are ALWAYS relevant. Maybe production-wise things could've been treated differently but strip those songs back and they have a relevance in any time period.

Johnny Marr summed it up quite well when he talked of how talented and deep Neil is but most people have this impression of him as light and pop. I think thats true and a lot of that perception comes from the production of albums like Woodface. Maybe that doesn't do him credit.

The other major factor I feel is not being in the limelight enough. Just imagine if the 7 Worlds gigs had been done in the UK or US. And imagine if they'd been on when Pearl Jam or Radiohead were at their peak. I'm sure a lot more people would've sat up and took notice of Neil and there's a good chance he'd have become 'relevant'.
But thats how fickle the industry is.

What is so different in David Gray's songs that made him so relevant after White Ladder was released? Or Coldplay? And what about Paul Weller? He was relevant in The Jam, slipped away for years, and with the help of Oasis suddenly became this important figure again. I can't see themes in the songs of any of these artists that are hugely different to Neil's and they're certainly no more talented or original than him.

I've often wondered how some of Neil's albums would've sounded if he'd had someone like Nigel Godrich producing and its slightly frustrating to think it could have changed things but then I revert back and admire Neil for sticking to his guns and making his own path. 'One All/Nil' certainly doesn't sound like any other album from the year it was released and thats pretty cool to me.
Tim is finally cooler than Neil, thanks to his latest release, 'Feeding the Gods' It is just about the best thing Tim has done since Escapade and it is so FRESH. I am a big Neil fan - he was always my musical muse but now Tim has won my heart with his willingess to both EXPERIMENT and be COMPLETELY TRUE TO HIMSELF at the same time. 'Feeding the Gods' is a wonderful testament to a mature musician who has never lost his roots. As for Neil, my baby is getting just a little too self-indulgent for me these days...though i will always love him!!!!
On a more serious note, for the last 25 YEARS it has been consistently believed in the music world that the Finn, Split Enz and Crowded House were making music OUTSIDE THEIR TIME. No-one ever called Split Enz relevant in the 70s and 80s - they were always, to quote a music journalist of the day, 'Just outside their time' and just out of the mainstream.
To paraphrase Rolling Stone, 'Neil could have written anything, in any style of music and had hits coming out of his proverbial, but he chose to be true to himself and write his way' - even if that is not 'trendy' - and this was said about Neil back in 1988!

You see, the Finns have NEVER been relevant, in a zeitgeist way, and that's the POINT - that's why they are so special. They have always been timeless......and just a little outside their time.
What's the meaning of life? No answer? That's just just like asking "What's the definition of relevent?"... at least no one's put it into words. Dude, this thread was interesting (and cheers to Astro for resurrecting it Smiler ). I feel I've learned more in the last 10 minutes than I have... in the last 5 minutes Big Grin )

The unfortunete definition of relevent is:

Whatever's in the frickin' rigged charts, whatever's unoriginal, whatever's had the most marketing & promotion, whatever's completely manufactured & fake... & whatever's corrupt. I don't think anyone can argue with that...? Just try!


Can I calm down now? Cool

- Secret God (who isn't relevent right now; so therefore should be discarded & frowned upon because he isn't willing to become so frickin' commercial - ala Neil Finn - who will probably be ruined by MTV if he suddenly gets popular: "Hmmm... Neil Finn... we can market this. He can be cool..." - MTV Frowner ).
Only thing wrong with your definition, Secret God, is that MTV NO LONGER plays videos. Neither will VH-1. At least here in the good ol' USA. Even MTV2 (or whatever it's called) doesn't seem to be what it touted itself way back when it debuted. We're certainly not going to see Our Neil on video channels here. Oh..wait...I think the country music video channel manages to play all music all the time....might be our only hope. I hear there's still music channels out there in isolated corners of the world, Oz being one of those corners, you lucky deity! Yes, this is a post full of bile and vitriole directed towards our music industry in the US. Either that or I'm just getting old and remembering the glory days. Wink
Mtv bides its time with massive chunks of the REAL WORLD series and they are up in the 12th season (if i am not mistaken) in Las Vegas this time.

I am over The Real World unless watching it MST3Kstyle, with lots of background commentary.Although I did watch MTV this last saturday afternoon, and while they had videos, there were a few repeated thrice, and not that many rock videos. The new Foo Fighters and Queens of the Stone Age video clips were aired 2x and Chevelle got one play.
They generally show videos late at night, early morning and sometimes in the evening.
For someone who is ambivilent about being an agnostic, you sure do bring religion up a whole heck of a lot, W.C.I.B.N.. I frankly don't agree that it makes any difference one way or the other to an artist's relevance in the industry. And Neil's values fit with all sorts of religions, not just judeo-christianity. He even wrote a song for a Buddhist.

Neil and Tim are widely respected among fellow artists. There are plenty of people who think that they both craft great music. But here in America it has been hard for them to get airplay, because neither fits into any format here.

If a Finn song gets played in the forest...
who.can.it.be.now, are you saying the reason Neil Finn's relevance in the music industry is being questioned here is because he's a lapsed Catholic? I don't understand your point.

Why on earth would Hollywood or MTV censor Neil's lyrics? Why would a secular market give a flip about Neil's status as Lapsed Catholic?

This is a good topic, and I would prefer not to see it sidelined onto some bizarro tangent.

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