“Anytime” by Neil Finn

57. Song Nos. 471-473: “Anytime,” Neil Finn
One All, 2002; One Nil, 2001; 7 Worlds Collide: Live at the St. James, 2001

I don’t think I properly addressed just how much high-school me, with my heavy-handed eyeliner and lovingly savaged mismatched Chucks and aesthetic that vacillated between Goodwill and goth, absolutely, hopelessly loved the music of Neil Finn.

Sure, the initial “Sports Night” connection helped but I just simply loved his music as purely as I could love anything then. His solo discography was unbearably sparse in the early aughts, so eventually realizing that he was in Crowded House, too, was a revelatory moment of unbridled joy over the new bounty of songs I didn’t even know existed. (Many thanks to whatever long-ago auspiciously timed rewatch of the 1994 “The Stand” miniseries yielded the mindblowing AHA! moment of WAIT WAIT WAAAAIT THAT’S WHO’S BEEN SINGING “DON’T DREAM IT’S OVER” THIS WHOLE TIME!?)

I have eagerly awaited so many albums’ releases over the years, and if I had the proverbial ladyballs to brave digging into my calcified LiveJournal, I’m sure I would find heaps and heaps of squealing over every new Neil Finn tune I got my greedy hands on. I was lucky that I found his debut album Try Whistling This not too long before his sophomore follow-up One Nil came out but the wait was still interminable because geographical divides used to be much more daunting roadblocks.

Sooooo speaking of the great efforts of yore that went into acquiring hard-to-find CDs, being an American teenager looking for a New Zealand import album was… an absolute test of resolve. Especially in Amazon’s pre-monopoly days of hit-or-miss supply and eBay was only slightly better, assuming the seller wasn’t a shitball scammer. One Nil was the OG album and One All was its American cousin released in the States, like, a year later, but with some changes.

While Wikipedia outlined a few of those differences, it left out the most glaring one: Each album has a different version of “Anytime,” which is my favorite song on either one. This is important because the New Zealand version is my favorite, and I’ve always wondered why the version from the American release is the basis for the “7 Worlds Collide” live recording.

But this song that I love no matter how it’s mixed or how that bridges changed. I absolutely think it shaped my attitude about and indifference to my own death. It is lyrically and philosophically everything that resonates with me:

…The world is all around us
The days are flying past
And fear is so contagious
But I’m not afraid to laugh
I could go at anytime
There’s nothing safe about this life…

Like, HELL YES to all of it. Especially in this utter wreckage of a timeline, which feels even scarier than the immediate post-9/11 Northeastern U.S. did. Yes, time seems to just keep accelerating the older I get. Yes, that just makes living in the moment so much more important because there are no guarantees of tomorrow. Yes, it is so easy to get caught up in the worst of it all.

And, yes, abso-fucking-lutely take the piss out of death’s dark spectre by laughing despite it. Just because the world is always trying to swallow us whole and our odds of survival drop every day doesn’t mean we should be cowering in fear of the inevitable: It’s reason enough to celebrate the now and embrace a brighter future and, in the totally out-of-context words of my all-time favorite poet, “kicking death in the ass while singing.”

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