Crowded House and associated members has dominated my life for as far back as I can remember music. Even the title of this series, “Counting the beat…” has a connection to Neil Finn through his earlier band, Split Enz (Phil Judd was an original member of Split Enz and wrote the song “Counting the Beat” during his time with The Swingers).
So I had to pick a song that expressed the best of Crowded House for me….one…just one…so the choice became easy. Private Universe very quickly moved to the top of my list. This evocative song comes from Crowded House’s critically acclaimed Together Alone and shares an atmospheric quality that pervades the album. You can hear it’s born of a storm ravaged beach, the Maori musical traditions and the innate lyrical nature of Neil’s own talent.
Meaning is always hard when it comes to a Neil Finn song. Certainly it was inspired by the birds that nested in a palm in his backyard and would gather to nest for the night. Around that image is the idea of a perfect moment in time (the apple tree, an intimate dinner, an endless summer) where all other distractions of life are ignored to the shared loved between two people.
Neil’s work is often hard to appreciate as his images usually wanders leaving the listener thinking, “Wow, that sounded great, but what was he going on about?” Private Universe is lucid and still atmospheric.
For me, Private Universe is Crowded House…my private universe. In their songs I found solace in my teenage-hood, my identity and discovered my friendships, many that still persist to this day. I have many a private universe moment thanks to Crowded House and if only for those reasons, Private Universe needs to be in my countdown.