My music collection is eclectic. If there is one thing in life I strive to be, it’s well-rounded—of the mind, that is, not the body. My favorite artist in that collection is Colin Hay, but when I mention him to friends and acquaintances, rarely does anyone recognize the name. His talent is vastly underrated and under-appreciated. Yet, I guarantee most people my age—the generation mesmerized by MTV when it first started broadcasting—will recognize the face and voice. Colin Hay was the front man of Men at Work. Remember the lead singer of “Down Under,” “Who Can It Be Now,” and “Overkill”? That’s him.
I don’t recall how I discovered Hay’s solo albums. Perhaps hearing his songs on the television show “Scrubs” led me to him. I find most of my favored music by catching obscure songs in movies, and to a lesser extent now, TV shows. (We ditched cable television a year ago because we rarely watched it. It took six months for our kids to notice. Now, if we want to watch a show, we watch it from the internet.)
Two of Hay’s songs graced “Scrubs” the first season, and if memory serves, his wonderful acoustic version of “Overkill” opened the second season as Hay played a street performer who followed JD—the main character—around, appearing to provide an actual soundtrack to JD’s day versus the ones he always heard in his head.
Colin Hay’s music may not be for everyone, but if you like Mat Kearney, Ben Harper, and Jack Johnson, then you’ll probably like Hay—at least that’s what Pandora thinks. Also, if you are an acoustic guitar player, chances go way up you’ll like his music.
But there is another reason to like Hay, something I didn’t realize until I saw him perform. My wife and I caught his performance at the ArtsCenter in Carrboro, NC last year and rarely have I laughed so much, even when paying to listen to a comedian. Hay entertained the audience for two solid hours not only by performing well and singing great songs, but just as much by telling stories that left the entire crowd belly laughing. He’s a talented guitar player—I’d recommend seeing him solo first, without his band—but he’s also a master songwriter, adept at creating lyrical stories with depth and humor. If you like acoustic music, sample these songs from his Going Somewhere CD on iTunes:
- Beautiful World
- Waiting for My Real Life to Begin
- I Just Don't Think I'll Ever Get Over You
- Circles Erratica
- My Brilliant Feat
Or, these songs from his Man @ Work CD
- Overkill (Acoustic Version)
- Beautiful World (Alternate Mix)
And if you ever get the chance to see the man perform in person, let nothing stop you.