Thursday, December 02, 2004

Perfect Pop

2. "Nails in My Feet," Crowded House (1993)
I can think of no other song that's a better testament to Neil Finn's singular gift for investing such gorgeous melodies with mystery and weird dread. "Nails in My Feet" revels in Finn's stated love of filling his songs with mundane details (houses, stars, beaches) and poking them with dreamlike imagery. The song opens with the words "My life is a house," but it soon becomes apparent that the house in question is not necessarily the narrator's own. Or maybe it is his, but with an intruder entering. Or maybe the intruder is someone the singer wants around.
The music sounds effortless, but this is not background pop. This song benefits the closer you listen, the better to hear the hymnal, sublime vocal melody and the fluid bassline that's equally as essential to the song.
After the guitar solo, a Mellotron enters and the song becomes less languid and more urgent. Stranger and stranger. "I woke up the house/Stumbled in sideways." Who's the house now? Who's the intruder? Finn's vocal rises an octave for the final chorus with a near-perfect simile: "Your skin is like water on a burning beach/And it brings me relief." And then, as the music begins to fade, Finn muses even more tantalizing mystery, back at that house: "In the back row, under the stars/And the ceiling is my floor."
It's nearly impossible for me to listen to this song only once in a single sitting.

More about "Nails in My Feet," where you can find out just how mundane the settings Finn can derive inspiration from are.


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