Sunday, July 3, 2016

Four: Four Seasons in One Day

Crowded House: Four Seasons in One Day


New Buffalo (Sally Seltmann): Four Seasons in One Day


Paul Kelly and Angus Stone: Four Seasons in One Day


The songs of Neil and Tim Finn have be come so familiar that I sometimes forget that they are from Australia. Their songs have been covered by artists worldwide, and I am more accustomed to that treatment for American, English, or Canadian artists. Four Seasons in One Day makes no specific reference to Melbourne, but the song was inspired by the changeable weather there. For the singer, the uncertain weather is a mirror of the uncertainties in his own life. The video expands brilliantly on this idea, by regarding the seasons in the title as the seasons of a man’s life.

Does it matter that the songs of the Finn brothers are written and sung by men, or are they more universal? In 2005, the label EMI decided to find out. They recruited a roster of female artists from Australia and New Zealand to record their versions of Finn songs. They called the resulting album She Will Have Her Way. For the occasion, Sally Seltmann recorded Four Seasons in One Day under her stage name of the time, New Buffalo. She has recorded her more recent material under her own name. Her take on Four Seasons in One Day sounds like Laurie Anderson may have been is much of an inspiration as the Finns. Reviewers of the album on Amazon seem to either love it or hate it, and this song will probably get similar reactions.

In any case, the album was enough of a success that EMI decided to release a companion album in 2010. He Will Have His Way features all male artists this time, but still from Australia and New Zealand. You might have expected similar results, but reviewers on Amazon who loved the previous album seem to hate this one, and vice versa. Paul Kelly and Angus Stone deliver a Four Seasons in One Day that is certainly truer to the original than Seltmann’s version, but they still make some artistic choices of their own. The brass section is an especially nice touch.

In summary, I leave this post as a case study in the art of the cover song. The artists on both tribute albums offer a wealth of quality original material from their own catalogues as well; I invite you to seek that out and enjoy.

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