Neil Finn

Neil Finn Official Website

Walls, Tunnels and all the Rest

Hi there,

I’ve been travelling here and there for the last two weeks, ended up here, halfway round the world to perform more shows with up and coming band Fleetwood Mac. We opened the tour in a beautiful outdoor arena in Berlin, surrounded by a forest, a place which had been originally built as a place for Nazi rallies to be held. We walked to the stage along an underground corridor which was built in the shape of an arc in order that no one could get a clear shot of the Fuhrer from either end. The back of the stage was a formidable stone wall which had once been fitted with gun turrets for picking off rabble-rousers.

Neil-backstage in Berlin.jpg

Over the years, many great artists have played in this arena and resurrected it for good and peaceful purposes, but being there in that place does remind you in a sobering way of the extraordinary transformations that can take place in the zeitgeist over decades.

While in Berlin, we visited a famous bunker near the train station which was designed by Albert Speer. It was built in a grand architectural style with marble panels (now residing in Russia) applied to concrete walls three metres thick, meant to withstand the aerial bombing and be a lasting monument to the might of the German Empire. Such was their supreme arrogance and grandiose vision. The building did prove to be resilient, unlike the Empire.

Berlin-Bunker-1000b.jpg

During the following years in what became East Berlin, the bunker was secretly used to house bananas which only the upper echelon of the Communist Party could enjoy. Ordinary Germans might only get to have a banana once a year but those privileged defenders of the state were slicing them up for their cereal every day.

Once the wall came down, this building for a short while was the most famous techno, rave, fetish and sex club in Berlin. Those flat concrete walls must have amplified those oonst oonst beats, shrieks and howls into a soundtrack worthy of Dante’s Inferno, sensory overload, transcendental horror and euphoria? In any event, all were welcome, a good night out if you were in the right mood, so I am told.

Dog-art-in-the-bunker.jpg

The bunker has now been transformed into a private art gallery showing the contemporary art collection of Karen and Christian Boros. The interior has been remodelled into an amazing exhibition space and there are many fascinating works of art on display. Most of these carry conceptual layers of meaning for which it is helpful, or in some cases essential, to get a guided tour to understand. This inspired reformation of the building’s original intent is, from the outside at least, a “readymade" artwork. You can really feel the intensity of the structure and its purpose and history as you wander the corridors inside.

On the top floor is an exhibition of work by a Brazilian artist by the name of Paulo Nazareth. He has spent many years walking though Africa and other continents in bare feet with no money, no bank account, no phone. He wants to have no choice but to connect directly with people everywhere he goes, to find work, to find shelter, to be fed. Every now and again he sends postal packages of work to his art dealer, e.g his worn and weathered tunic on which he has stitched a few words and a simple route map of his journey. His life and his choices are an impressive artwork of uncompromising, single minded will. I thought of him the next morning as I complained to room service about them not having sent up any butter with breakfast. This contrast of choices and circumstances had never seemed so apparent.

So this letter is in a part a travelogue, but mostly I’m just passing on a realisation that we need to be vigilant, self aware, always looking to make art that is transformational, allowing all the people to share a vision and pursuing a vision that’s good for all.

Sie kommen, sie kommen
um eine Mauer zwischen uns zu bauen
Wir wissen, dass sie nicht gewinnen werden

Thanks

Neil

Elroy

Hi there,

This week I will enthuse about an album of beautiful songs that was created by our son Elroy and is released on Friday. Somehow I must steer a course between natural pride and admiration for what Elroy has achieved and not overdo the praise to the point of embarrassment. Let me just say that I do truly marvel at the unique textures, chords and melodies that grace his record. It's a really deep album with mysterious and alluring atmosphere. I love it and I think you might enjoy it too.

Elroy is launching his record tonight at Neck Of The Woods in K Rd, Auckland, with a wonderful 6 piece band. I know it will be a brilliant show (I heard them rehearsing) and I dearly wish I could be there but alas we are in LA.

Sharon, Liam and I have performed a cover of one of Elroy’s beautiful songs, “Worth The Wait“, in honour of the occasion.

I’ll embed his new video here next week (EDIT: It’s here now. See below.) I am also including links to the album stream for your listening pleasure: iTunes/Apple Music , Spotify, and Bandcamp.


…...Oh, and a random incident, half time at the Aria Music Awards 2016.

Love

Neil

The Game of Small Gains

Hi there,

I thought I would give you a few insights into my personality, not giving away all the juicy stuff which I will save for my memoirs, but some context for why and how I make decisions.

I have come to realise I can behave in unpredictable ways when greeted with approval or disapproval. Sometimes I recoil from praise and embrace scorn. Why on earth would I be that perverse, but there’s something empowering about knowing the worst anyone can say about you, getting annoyed about it, imagining some withering sarcastic response but then consigning it to the trash.

With my own music I often seem to sabotage my best laid plans. Why would I ruin a good chorus with an arrangement that conceals the hook. Crowded House is a brand that conjures up good will, we made it with hard work and good spirit, but I have had a contradictory relationship with the success and perception it created. We were the band that some reviewers felt compelled to make excuses for liking. We weren’t consuming enough drugs or projecting enough drama or darkness or something but we liked the idea that your Nanna could enjoy us. In fact, Run DMC made the comment when we had a rap battle with them that their mothers were big fans. It may have been a diss but we were delighted.

I have a real suspicion of holiday resorts. That kind of luxury, detached reality, cocktails by the pool, cool music playing, an air of sophistication that seems to whisper “You're going to die one day,” with spa attendants in white uniforms bearing fluffy towels.

Steely Dan has the same effect on me, an overabundance of major 7th chords and super slick arrangements. I know it's good music but it disturbs me.

Yes, I have a degree from the university of perversity. If you tell me "You should just do Crowded House music all the time,” I will start work on Pajama Club. I also have a mild phobia of group activities. If I go to a yoga class, as I once did, and everyone has to introduce themselves to each other, I won’t go again.

The Game Of Small Gains is a great way to pass time in crazy gridlock freeway traffic. You spot a prominent vehicle in another lane and set about making a series of small manoeuvres from lane to lane in order to get ahead of that car. At no point are silly risks taken, but with skill and patience, small gains can be made and immense satisfaction taken. It's much more enjoyable with a passenger on board. They can be of great use with a well timed “Now!” The ultimate prize is to pull off a “sneak“ down an exit lane, just returning to the traffic before the off-ramp. The Greenlane exit “sneak" on Auckland's Southern Motorway is a kilometre and a half of plain sailing… it’s glorious!

OK, a couple of new musical obscurities for you.

Go well good folk

Neil

Meet Me In The Air

Hi everyone,
I have a family that I love. As every day goes by, I give thanks for that blessing and am aware that life can take unexpected turns, so it’s good to not delay fun. Sharon, Liam, Elroy and I discovered a while ago we’re a hot band, not a mere novelty act! As Liam says, “Hey do you like family bands? Neither do we but don’t worry, since we started microdosing we’ve transcended the trad family band pitfalls.”

Through January, we had 10 shows in the UK, Ireland and Europe and I think there was something special going on. You folk who attended seemed to think so too. Thank you!

Just after soundcheck in London, we filmed a video for the song “Meet Me In The Air” which was born as a family jam. It was filmed by Marc Swadell and I edited it in my hotel room over the following weeks on tour with the Mac.

Here it is in all its smokey, bow tied glory. 

Cheers 

Neil

From the album Lightsleeper
Directed by Neil & Liam Finn
Cameras: Marc Swadel and Shaun Dyos
Lighting: Eden Morrison
Edited by Neil Finn
Filmed at EartH in Hackney, London
Tour Manager: Caron Malcom
Thanks to Marc Swadel for making it happen and to EartH for allowing us to shoot in their beautiful room.

Keep It Coming

Hello good folk,
and yes, you are good folk indeed. Judging from the comments I read on the journal pages, there are many warm and intelligent people tuning in, with the exception of you, Ingrid Birtwhistle. Your mocking of my prominent and asymmetric nose is uncalled for!

Spirit of The Stairs seemed to get a lot of requests, so I’m throwing that one at you. I’ll keep this up over the next few weeks. It’s fun to relearn these songs, it feels like it’s good for my brain plasticity. I find it quite mysterious how they came about in the first place and in some cases even more mysterious that they didn’t make albums, as they stand up quite well now compared to some of the shit we did. Thanks for reminding me.

 
 

I am also including a wee video that dropped into my inbox today, a reminder of how small victories with neighbours can make the day feel that much better.

I have been checking out news sources that you recommended and have found some good ones. Slow news as a concept does exist as I thought it would. I was already aware of great journalists like Amy Goodman on Democracy Now, many shows on NPR, ABC and SBS (Australia), RNZ, but have also enjoyed exploring these sites I was unaware of:

Truthdig
All Sides - media bias ratings
The Conversation
Media Bias / Fact Check
Delayed Gratification - The Slow Journalism Magazine

I recognise that many of these outlets veer towards the left but they do maintain an in-depth approach and mostly balanced commentary. David Brooks has a more conservative view and good things to say in the New York Times and the Shields and Brooks show on PBS NewsHour. The Economist is a good conservative source too but you have to pay for it.

Looking back through my tweets, I must admit I was in better form early on and might throw a few of them at you from time to time. One of them from 6 years ago was like a strange lateral premonition.

On that note, perhaps you might want to subscribe to Mindful Resistance. He has some good perspective on that guy.

OK, I’ll leave you with those thoughts ….go well

Neil

Forgotten Gems, Deep Cuts

I have obscure songs, deep cuts that are largely… no, hang on... comprehensively ignored by the gatekeepers, arbiters of public interest, and will never appear in an end of year "best of" list, but some of you are passionately attached to, bless your cotton socks. I get requests for them on stage and off stage. I am rarely if ever prepared enough to do them justice.

But now in my new once a week mode, I am tempted to delve into the beautiful obscurities and give them some love. I will start with one about our dear old dog Lester that gets requested quite often.

You will have ideas I’m sure, so throw them my way and I’ll try to render them with some affection and respect for an idea that once saw the light of day (many didn’t.)

I’m intent on making parameters and conditions that I will be able to live up to and not leave us all with a sinking feeling that I promised much and couldn’t deliver.

So, less words this week and a little music to get the ball rolling.

Love you all

Neil

Backwards and forwards

A lot has happened in this last week. Unfortunately, we have had to postpone shows which no one in Fleetwood Mac would ever take lightly. It’s very upsetting, but good health is the most important thing and the music can’t keep happening without it. Sorry to all of you who were making plans to be there. We will make it up to you. 

So much wonderful response to my last post about the news. I wrote replies to many of you on the comments section, does that work, did you find my replies? I couldn’t respond to everybody but so appreciate how much thought you put into it. I am looking at the sources you suggested, might have a few links on the site once I have found the good oil. 

I do like George Monbiot in The Guardian, unflinching in his values and managing to portray our planet’s existential dilemma without hopelessness. 

I wasn’t really suggesting we ban cars, just wanted to show you how good I look on a horse (35 years ago!) 

More to come on that front…… meanwhile……

Back in 2001, I developed a website called NilFun. Rakai Karaitiana was the talented designer who helped me make some fun ideas happen. Most of the interactive pieces he did in Flash, which was a problem for some viewers, but there were some really interesting and humorous things on the site, musical games, audio visual artworks. Aside from these, we also did several webcasts from my basement - an hour or two of unscripted music and chat and lots of laughs with friends manning cameras. People were emailing in from around the world: “I’m in Stockholm, it’s 3am and snowing outside, watching you and loving it.”

Although that website had a limited lifespan, it was always my intention to use some of the experience we gathered to fashion a new and better place for people to come and explore and share music, visual treats and ideas. I have kept my fascination with live streaming well fed most recently with the album Out Of Silence, but as for the bigger picture, somehow life kept throwing (mostly good) distractions in my way and I let things lie for many years.

But now with more focus and space to think, I am hoping some of these threads can be picked up. In the meantime, I am giving you links to a sample page of NILFUN goodies to explore and directions for how these will work on which browsers. Some of you may have trouble getting these pieces to work, so apologies in advance It took me couple of days on my laptop to open up the work.

Take a look if you can. There was a video for the song Rest Of The Day Off from around the same time that shows me on the computer interacting with the website, and a great shot of me swinging our dog Milla round with a piece of seaweed on the beach.

Have Fun

Neil

The First Post

Baltimore is breathing

As I have removed myself from social media for the foreseeable future, I aim to find a few new things to throw at you on here. Hopefully my words will flow free and I can string together thoughts of more than 280 characters, remember a few good things that happened today or yesterday, show you some panoramic images and short movies, fast corridors with surprise endings. There’s a world of creative process and remarkable people out there that I hope to discover.

I have an uneasy feeling about social media and the way it affords cover and encouragement for cowards and creeps and this has just led me to the decision not to participate anymore. I am hoping for space to reflect and create good things. 

Back on the laptop now I’m writing emails to you, it’s old school and I can see the keyboard properly with my failing eyesight. It might take a while to get my flow going but don’t give up on me.

Thanks for reading 

Neil