My favorite 100 albums of all time: #39 ("Going Somewhere")
Colin Hay is a storyteller. This is immediately evident if you have the opportunity to see him perform live as a headliner, as the stories between songs will be just as interesting and entertaining as the songs themselves. The songs, of course, are also stories.
Other 70s and 80s kids will recognize Hay from Men At Work, a damn good rock band out of Australia that managed three studio albums before breaking up in 1986. (They reunited for some touring between 1996 and 2002, but didn't produce any new studio albums.) Hay's voice will be immediately recognizable from his Men At Work days here, but Going Somewhere is a different beast entirely.
Going Somewhere is a solo album in all senses. This is just Hay and his guitar, not an attempt to replicate the sound of Men At Work under a different banner. And that's just fine.
Like Frou Frou, I have Zach Braff's Garden State to thank for reconnecting with Hay's music. The soundtrack has Hay's "I Just Don't Think I'll Ever Get Over You," which is also on the extended release of Going Somewhere from 2005.
Going Somewhere kicks off with "Beautiful World," a perfect example of Hay's songwriting and outlook. He's older, wiser, and while things aren't perfect he's learned to accept beauty and comfort where he finds it. And, of course, Hay's sardonic sense of humor makes an appearance as well. He sings, "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".
If Going Somewhere only had "Waiting For My Real Life to Begin," it'd be worth the price of the album and then some. A warning against just waiting for life to happen to you, I love the line "When I awoke today, suddenly nothing happened." Hay's voice is at its finest on this one, warm and inviting, wistful and wise.
"Lifeline" is another amazing tune. I find myself focusing on the guitar on this one. It's not showy, but Hay really makes it come alive. "Circles Erratica" focuses more on the guitar work. I think Hay's using a 12-string here, it sounds particularly rich. The bridge solo is particularly lovely.
And then there's the beautiful but heart-rending "Maggie" about a first love lost permanently. Absent any lyrics, I'd still love this song for its melody and ringing guitar, but coupled with the vocals it's a piece of work worthy of Lennon and McCartney.
The album's original final track is the a cappella "I Don't Know Why," recorded live. Listening to this, I realize that Hay's voice has never quite gotten its due. This is the perfect follow-on to "Maggie," and a closer to the album.
But wait, there's more! The 2005 re-release on Hay's Lazy Eye Records label features the radio edits for "Waiting For My Real Life to Begin" and "I Just Don't Think I'll Ever Get Over You." I'll be honest, I didn't pay close attention the first few times I listened to Going Somewhere and thought that the double inclusion of "Waiting" was either some fairly lazy songwriting or a reprise of some kind. "Didn't I just hear that?" Often when I cue it up on a media player, I just drop the radio edit of "Waiting" from the playlist.
Hay tours frequently, and I had the chance to see him play a solo show in St. Louis a few years ago – and meet him after a short set opening for Barenaked Ladies this summer. He's way up on my "snag tickets if playing within anything like reasonable distance" list. If he only played songs off Going Somewhere I wouldn't be sad in the slightest, even though I've not met an album of his I don't love yet.