Listen to this track from Kiwi brethren and Split Enz/Crowded House alumni Tim and Neil Finn, AKA Finn Brothers with a deep cut from their second collaborative LP under that name Everyone is Here released in 2004. It’s “Disembodied Voices”, a rootsy pop tune about the late-night exchanges between brothers in the same room as children, as remembered by those brothers many years later.
The Finn brothers, in many ways, are the anti-Davies (as in Ray and Dave of the Kinks), or the anti-Noel and Liam. These brothers get along. And more to that, they have common memories of childhood, those that hold them together, and that they each cherish. And that’s what this song is about, packed with childhood innocence, and reducing the passage of time to a simple footnote, a mere detail, that pales in comparison to the memory itself; “talking with my brother while we wait for sleep, down the hallway forty years ago”.
The “forty years ago” is less important as the details of the conversation, the connection between two people who happen to be brothers. It could be anywhere. That’s the power of memory, and the power of translating that memory into song.
The record off of which this comes was the more refined of the two, to date, albums under the Finn Brothers name. The first was the comparatively low-fi album titled simply Finn and with a feel as if the two men had a meal and a couple of glasses of wine, and then knocked off the record in a single night – in a good way, of course. But, this second release was the full Finn monty. It’s a well-crafted record that pulls in the strengths of both men – harmony, hooks, and the ineffable quality of two singer-songwriters who have complementary, yet similar textures when approaching the business of creating memorable pop music. It helps that Crowded House producer Mitchell Froom was on the production desk, and Jon Brion weighed in on guitars to back up the two Finns.
I saw the Finns on their tour of this record at the Orpheum Theatre here in Vancouver. The two men, with full band, worked through the songs on this record, their previous one, plus songs from Crowded House and Split Enz. I got the feeling that these guys were not only putting on a show for us. They were celebrating something of their shared history. The two boys chatting in the dark had grown up, and were sharing their conversation with us. With songs from the 70s, 80s, 90s, and 2000s coming at us, that place in the darkness could have been anywhere, too.
For more information about Finn Brothers, check out the Finn Brothers entry on Wikipedia.
For Neil Finn and Crowded House news, check out crowdedhouse.com.
And for Tim Finn updates and music, investigate timfinn.com.
Finn Brothers image thanks to Elmo Keep.