Thursday, July 30, 2015

Top 100 Songs From the 1990s (No. 26)

26. "Not the Girl You Think You Are"
Artist: Crowded House
Year: 1996

First, Neil Finn as solo artist at No. 49, and now Crowded House at No. 26. Too much? I don't think so. Finn is one of the great purveyors of pop, and he needs absolutely no defense, but I will tell you why I have always been particularly fond of this band. On Feb. 20, 1987, at the age of 17, I went on a date with a gal I had admired from afar since the previous summer. It took that long because I sucked at such things, and she ended up with a boyfriend that fall while I sat on my hands. Pathetic.

I seem to be veering off course. Anyway, we crammed into my tiny Renault LeCar and headed to a Chinese restaurant for prawns and awkward first-date conversation. After the fortune cookies, I took her to the most romantic place I could think of... a record store. Yes, I'm that good. "Don't Dream It's Over" was beginning to get quite a bit of play on MTV (in fact, the song cracked the Billboard Top 40 the very next week), and I bought Crowded House's self-titled debut on cassette that night. As high school kids from the sticks often do, we drove around with no particular place to go as we got to know each other. The auto reverse on the tape deck did its job, and 'Crowded House' became the soundtrack for what I guess can be described as a special evening since we have been together ever since. As regular readers are aware, Mrs. LTL doesn't like all of the bands I do, but Crowded House is one we have both loved for nearly 30 years.

Crowded House had a couple of great albums in the 1990s, and there were many candidates from 'Woodface' and 'Together Alone' considered for this list. In the middle '90s there was to be a new album (ironically named 'Help Is Coming'), but the band called it quits before it was completed. Instead, in 1996, three new songs from those sessions were added to a "best of" called 'Recurring Dream.' Man, do I hate when bands add a new song or two to a hits package like that. It's nothing but a cash grab to get die-hard fans to buy an album they don't need. In most cases, at least one of the new songs inevitably sounds out of place when you pull it off the shelf a decade later. "I don't remember this song at all" is what you're bound to tell yourself. Well, "Recurring Dream" is a rare instance where the new stuff was at least as good as the hits, especially "Instinct" and today's selection. In fact, all three songs charted in the UK. Finn described "Not the Girl You Think You Are" as his stab at trying to write a song as if he was one of the Beatles, and it does remind me of ballads like "And I Love Her," but this is still Crowded House through and through. I put it up there with "Sister Madly" as, perhaps, my favorite from a very impressive cannon.

8 comments:

C said...

I'm not a Crowded House fan but I totally agree about Neil Finn being one of the great purveyors of pop, and I did have a brief but intense love affair with the 'Try Whistling This' album after hearing 'Sinner' for the first time.
However I just love your story behind this, so touching, and congrats to the two of you for staying together all this time. My own faltering start with Mr SDS was not dissimilar (he took his time too...) so I can relate! And as it happened he was an early Split Enz fan - one of the first albums he lent me was 'Mental Notes'. Maybe Neil Finn moves in mysterious ways...

kevinpat said...

Sweet.

The Swede said...

Crowded House were one of those bands I could play in the shop knowing full well that I'd probably sell a couple of copies to curious customers before the album ended. I was pleasantly surprised with the level of mainstream success Crowded House attained at their peak, I'm sure we can both name plenty of equally classy performers who, unaccountably, never achieved the mass acceptance they so richly deserved. This is an effortlessly excellent song and the story of your early moments with the future Mrs LTL is an absolute delight.

charity chic said...

As the saying goes You know more Crowded House records than you think. I must confess that I am not really a fan of their music
Nice story there
The first record I can remember dancing to with Mrs CC was Country Girl by Primal Scream. I suspect it is the only one of theirs that she likes

McPop said...

Brian, great story about you and your wife. Thanks for reminding me about this song. I think I'll pull out my Recurring Dream CD and listen to the 3 "new" songs tomorrow on the work commute. Cheers!
P.S. My wife also likes Crowded House.

friend of rachel worth said...

Love all things Finn (well maybe not pyjama club) . My fav is the 2nd LP . I guess a bit of a surprising choice as it comes as they were about to give up. As you say all 3 are great songs just don't play them much as they aren't on the lps. For me either the gorgeous melody of distant sun or the adultery song into temptation (was that 90s?) with its whispered don't tell ending

Brian said...

Hi everyone. Thanks for your comments, and I'm happy my little tale struck a chord with some of you. FORW, Into Temptation is so good, but that's from Temple of Low Men in 1988. That's actually my favorite Crowded House album. McPop, I hope your commute down down memory lane was memorable. CC, Primal Scream is a nice way to kick things off! Swede, I don't listen to a lot of mainstream music, but I have always rooted for Crowded House. They had a sound that was accessible to many different walks of life. I remember selling quite a few copies of Together Alone at the shop in '93. C, Try Whistling This was a good album. You might want to try One All too. That's my favorite of his solo work. Sounds like I would get along with Mr. SDS quite well.

Brett Alan said...

"Not The Girl You Think You Are" is just a flat-out amazing, great song. (One complaint about the Recurring Dream compilation, though: why didn't it include the song it was named for? B^)