Lyric of note: “Waiting for My Real Life to Begin” (written by: Colin Hay / Thom Mooney)
When I awoke today, suddenly nothing happened
But in my dreams, I slew the dragon
And down this beaten path, and up this cobbled lane
I’m walking in my old footsteps, once again
And you say, just be here now
Forget about the past, your mask is wearing thin
Let me throw one more dice
I know that I can win
I’m waiting for my real life to begin
If you heard any pop music from the early 80s, you certainly didn’t miss the voice of Colin Hay as the frontman for the band Men at Work. “Overkill,” “Down Under,” and “Who Can it Be Now” were huge hits, and brought the band to the attention of pretty much everyone in America. I remember, as a teenager, listening to America’s Top Forty with Casey Kasem, singing along to “Down Under.” Throughout the years (over twenty of them since the band broke up), hearing a Men at Work song has always made me smile and brought a small piece of my youth and innocence back to me.
Yet, I’ve never owned a Men at Work album, and while I’ve known for a few years that Colin Hay had a solo career, I’d never really bothered to follow up on his work. Maybe because I didn’t need to. Those few hit songs were so intertwined with my youth that my appreciation for them had little to do with the actual songs and more to do with the moment in time when I first heard them (and heard them a whole lot when they were hits).
That all changed on Friday.
I’ve heard a couple of Colin Hay’s songs on RadioParadise over the past few years and quite enjoyed them, but something clicked for me on Friday morning when I heard “Beautiful World” from Hay’s album Going Somewhere:
Something about the song hit me in a deep way, it made me smile and think about my own life and I wanted to hear more songs from this particular voice, this particular songwriter. So I did what I haven’t done in the year that I’ve owned an iPhone, I bought the album straight from my phone so that I could listen to it on my walk/bus/walk to work. Boy, am I glad I did.
Going Somewhere is a collection of previously recorded songs from albums stretching back to 1987’s Looking for Jack. Released in 2001, the album consists of acoustic guitar, the occasional slide guitar, and Hay’s voice, but there is nothing missing from the music. Simple, spare and incredibly emotional, these are songs that speak of journeys, of age, of regret, of time, of beauty, and of love. Hay’s voice is mellow and rich, but with that slight, ever so slight, roughness that gives him such a distinctive sound. Hearing these songs was like meeting a friend you haven’t seen in twenty-five years. You’ve occasionally looked fondly upon the picture of the two of you back in high school and smiled at the memories but suddenly you are back in each other’s lives. Instead of holding them frozen in time, you suddenly have the opportunity to hear their stories and learn about who they’ve become, how time has changed them, what adventures they’ve experienced.
And just like that, Colin Hay goes from being a voice associated with my past, to one that is here and now, and he offers songs that reflect my heart and my life in ways that Men at Work never did.
“Waiting for My Real Life to Begin”