Here’s a clip of New Zealand favourite son, Crowded House occupant, and songwriting heavyweight Neil Finn. It’s the 1998 single “She Will Have Her Way”, as taken from his first solo outing that year, Try Whistling This. And once again, we see that Neil Finn’s approach to the writing of love songs doesn’t follow the most direct route, which of course brings the theme of love right down to earth, and sometimes deeper underground.
The record was lauded in the music press at the time, although hints at a more experimentalist approach worried many. Crowded House had broken up a year before, and Finn was starting anew. A different approach was to be expected. And the first single off of the record, “Sinner”, certainly demonstrated a repositioned approach sonically, mixing pop/rock arrangements with (gasp!) samples.
Yet, “She Will Have Her Way” is as hook-laden and smart as any Crowded House tune, and with one of my favourite videos of the decade to recommend it.
That video incorporates footage from the 1950s Sci-fi movie, Attack of the 50ft Woman, something of a subtle statement at the time about the growing dissatisfaction of the American housewife during a time when many such films were social statements as well as being saturday matinee fare. This was perfect then for a songwriter known for multiple tonal and thematic levels in his writing, which on the surface always came off as the catchiest of pop songs.
Yet, true to Neil Finn form, this is not a breezy tune of love, even if it sounds like it is. It’s rather about someone trapped in love, or trapped in a relationship, held together by habit, even if it is ultimately a source of insecurity, agony, and even fear, with “a dying man is doing time”. Once again, the bitter pill is coated with sugar.
On this track, and many of the others on the record, Neil Finn plays the instruments himself, bar the drums. But, another musician joins him on “She Will Have Her Way” on guitar – Liam Finn, son of Neil, and a now-current artist himself with a new record out, Fomo.
Also, do check out Finn’s most recent project, The Pajama Club, a new band which includes his wife Sharon Finn on bass, and including Neil himself behind the drum kit along with usual guitar, keyboards, and vocals. I suppose having your wife in your band who plays a violin-shaped bass adds at least two levels to the whole McCartney-esque tag! Get the latest info, including an impending album release later this summer, from the Pajama Club official site.
This post is dedicated to Derek K. Miller, fellow Finn-follower, and greatly missed around Vancouver, online and off.
3 thoughts on “Neil Finn Sings “She Will Have Her Way””
What a brilliant post. I saw Neil and Liam perform this (and the whole album, plus much of Crowded House’s hits) at a free outdoor concert at the Toronto Docks in 1998. It was the best concert of my life, so steamy outside, and the songs had a southern gothic quality to them in that place. Thanks for the reminder of this great album!
That’s great. And a free show too!
The first time I saw Neil Finn was in 2004 when he was touring the second Finn Brothers record. So, I got to see Tim Finn, too, which was great. The show was at the Orpheum, which is a hell of a hall.
The second Finn-related show was Crowded House in 2007 at the Malkin Bowl. The highlight was Neil singing “Message to My Girl” solo on the piano, with a story told about the time former and much-missed drummer Paul Hester once walked out on stage ‘stark bollock naked’ during that very solo spot, somewhat disturbing the poignancy of the song.
Thanks for comments!
Love love love this song, and the whole record it’s from. What an incredible talent Finn is; able to write such pretty, tuneful songs that aren’t in the least bit fluffy.
I’ve been a huge fan of his since I first heard Split Enz’s “I Got You” in 1980 and rushed out to buy True Colours. Since then, he has never disappointed me once. How many musical artists can you say that about?
Thanks for the post on a mutual favourite!