Don Messerli’s Blog |

An exercise in self-indulgence.

Colin Hay Concert

Tuesday Oct 16, 2007

I’ve always thought Colin Hay, the former lead singer of Men at Work, is underrated. Most people only know of him from his days with Men at Work. They were very popular in the 80’s and were known for very catchy pop tunes. Who Can It Be Now? and Down Under were big hits. They capitalized on the popularity and style of The Police and added their own quirkiness. The reason Hay is underrated is because people only think of him in terms of these popular catchy tunes. First of all, if you just take the lyrics to these popular songs and remove them from that context, you start to see their depth.

If you listen to Hay’s later work, including his latest album Are You Lookin’ At Me?, you start to see the true brilliance of his songwriting. Very deep and introspective, yet simple. You won’t see a lot of silly love songs among his works. That’s a good thing if you ask me.

He has a great sense of humor. A lot of people remember him for his lazy eye. It was very prominent in the MTV era. Well, he released a CD called Company of Strangers on his own label, Lazy Eye America. His latest album is titled Are You Lookin’ At Me?. Both self-deprecating references to that lazy eye.

His sense of humor was fully in force during his concert a few weeks ago at The Wild Horse Saloon here in Nashville. Regine and I had VIP tickets and sat at a round table that literally touched the stage. Hay told funny stories about his life and the ups and downs of his career. He even made fun of Bob Dylan, having been at his concert the week before.

He played most of the songs he is known for as well as new stuff from his latest album. He switched from solo acoustic to full electric with his band. The show was thoroughly entertaining. I left with an even bigger appreciation for Colin Hay and his work.

Bob Dylan At The Ryman

Tuesday Oct 2, 2007

Regine and I went to see Bob Dylan at The Ryman Auditorium a couple of weeks ago. Here are some notes I sent to a friend of mine…

OK, so now I can say I’ve seen Bob Dylan in concert. Don’t have to do that again. Given the fact that the man is 66 years old and spent about 10 years in a drug-induced haze, I have to give him props. He played a fairly long set. I kept saying to myself, “This sucks”. But then I would say to myself, “But it’s Bob Dylan”. A thought kept coming into my mind that he could croak at any moment right there on stage - and I could say I was at his last concert.

Amos Lee, the opening act, was good but generally uninspiring. Might have been different if I were familiar with his music. Always tough to be introduced to someone’s music for the first time at a live event.

Next was a very pleasant surprise. Even though he is touring with Dylan, Elvis Costello was not listed for the Ryman dates. He came on unannounced and played solo acoustic guitar for about 40 minutes. At one point he broke into a rendition of “Suspicious Minds” and then back into one of his songs. I wouldn’t have taken the time out to see him had he been playing alone; but I’m glad I got to see him. Regine, my wife, is too young to know much about Costello and her first impression from last night was, “He’s weird”. I don’t think she realized the musical genius of someone who could stand there with just a guitar and a microphone and play any song he wanted, make it his own, and fill the auditorium with full rich sound.

As I said, Dylan was almost impossible to understand. He didn’t do much of the stuff he is famous for. The highlight was when Jack White, who lives here in Nashville and seems to be our shining star, came on stage and first did a duet with Dylan and then did “One More Cup of Coffee” without Dylan butting in. He tore the place up with his guitar. It’s good to know that rock isn’t dead.