Oh yeah, he's THAT guy!
September 11, 2023 6:17 AM   Subscribe

It took three years for Colin Hay's band to rise from playing pubs to being the biggest band in the world. Three more years, and Men At Work was over, as was all the momentum for Colin Hay's career. Colin Hay: Waiting For My Real Life [1h24m, 2015] documents the rise, fall, and continuing lingering legacy of one of Australia's biggest musical heroes.
posted by hippybear (25 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
I love Colin Hay! He'll always be a superstar to me. I would 100% get starstruck if I met him.
posted by grumpybear69 at 6:25 AM on September 11 [4 favorites]

Back when Men at Work's first album came out my brother had saved up his money to buy a "boom box", which was on the small side and didn't boom very much. Along with the device he bought three cassettes: The Go Gos' Vacation, Billy Joel's Greatest Hits, and Men at Works's Business as Usual.

He played them over and over and over again.

Somehow, I still like Men at Work and The Go Gos.

Be good, Johnny.
posted by bondcliff at 6:29 AM on September 11 [2 favorites]

How are we going to have a Farnum and a Hay post so close together? Is the Australian Tourism Board bribing both OPs?
posted by GamblingBlues at 6:44 AM on September 11 [1 favorite]

I saw him with Ringo Starr and the All Starr Band in Atlantic City last year, and he was terrific—really talented.
posted by vitout at 6:46 AM on September 11 [2 favorites]

He has been touring solo for the last couple decades and is a huge treat to see, go if he comes through your area. When I've seen him he intersperses his songs, a mix of Men at Work and solo stuff, with stories of the Long Long Ago.
posted by mcstayinskool at 6:47 AM on September 11 [2 favorites]

A story I always found so charming: Hay was close family friends with the Furlers, both Scottish ex-pats in Australia. When Hay was living in NYC in the early 1990s, their daughter Sia came to stay with him one summer.

From the Guardian:
He remembers the first time Sia stayed with him in New York, when she was 11. “That was a beautiful time, actually,” he says. “I would say, ‘If you clean your room we will have a Häagen-Dazs ice-cream and watch David Letterman’. That was the deal. Then 15 years ago I saw her on David Letterman, and that was a great moment. She was looking right down the camera and I knew what that meant.” (Did he get her to clean her room? “It was a bit of a token effort, but she did.”)

Here is that performance. Watch it knowing that story of an 11-year-old Sia cleaning her room so she could watch Letterman many years previous. It's something to behold.
posted by mcstayinskool at 6:56 AM on September 11 [9 favorites]

I saw a youtube of him sitting on a stage with an acoustic guitar, talking to the audience and then playing "Overkill". He was very charming.
posted by Windopaene at 7:26 AM on September 11

I remember coming across Colin Hay's Beautiful World, knowing nothing about him, on a MP3 blog, and being completely blown away. At his best, his songs sound like he's just coming up with them in the moment, just improvising them spontaneously.
posted by Kattullus at 7:43 AM on September 11 [2 favorites]

He has been touring solo for the last couple decades and is a huge treat to see, go if he comes through your area. When I've seen him he intersperses his songs, a mix of Men at Work and solo stuff, with stories of the Long Long Ago.

Easily one of the best shows we've ever been to. It was a small venue and we were close to the stage, so it felt like he was hanging out in our living room, jamming for us and a few friends.
posted by briank at 8:26 AM on September 11 [1 favorite]

Colin Hay has the voice of an angel. He's always been one of my top-5 singers of all time.
posted by 1adam12 at 8:54 AM on September 11 [1 favorite]

Saw him at the Edmonton Folk Festival and he was a highlight for me, not just for that year but for all the festivals.
posted by mazola at 8:59 AM on September 11

This video of him doing acoustic Overkill with the crowd singing backup is one of my all-time favorites.
posted by ruddhist at 9:11 AM on September 11 [7 favorites]

I enjoyed his cameo on Scrubs.
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:24 AM on September 11 [6 favorites]

I'm nothing more than a casual fan, in that if I hear his songs I won't change the channel, but the guy wrote two huge hits (Who Can It Be Now, Down Under) and one large hit (Overkill) and not one of them is a generic relationship song. I find that breath of topics pretty impressive for an (at the time) young songwriter.
posted by The_Vegetables at 9:44 AM on September 11 [3 favorites]

I was just coming to post that video, Greg_Ace. That's my old neighborhood near the corner of Laurel Canyon and Riverside, North Hollywood. Pat's Cocktails (the green awning in the background) was also the place where one St. Patrick's day my buddy and I went walking in for one last beer of the day as some argument spilled out the back door with a single gunshot in the air. We looked at each other and finished our beers calmly and left before the police got there.

Back to the subject at hand - that acoustic version of Overkill has gotten me through some pretty stressful times in my life. The short, meteoric rise and fall of bands never ceases to be amazing. Look at the Police, the Go-Go's from that time period. All that stress and strain of touring/performing/get another hit in the works and influx of fame and money seems insurmountable for most groups.
posted by drewbage1847 at 9:45 AM on September 11 [3 favorites]

Love Colin Hay. Love. I enjoyed Men At Work when they were current and owned their first two albums, played them relentlessly. But didn't think about them a lot in the 90s...

Came back around to Colin Hay in 2004 when he was on the Garden State soundtrack. Got into a few of his solo albums. Then I had the chance to see him live, solo, and really enjoyed that. He told the funniest damn story about having Paul McCartney over for dinner. I'm sure he's told it at many shows, I wish I could find it on YouTube.

But the kicker was seeing him in 2017 with a band, where he did a bunch of Men At Work tunes. It was my birthday, I was with my now-wife, and had just the right amount of Scotch where songs sound even better... they didn't just play the radio hits, they played some album cuts I never imagined hearing live. Probably one of the top 10 concerts in my book. (Don't ask me which position, but definitely top 10.)

Saw him again opening for Barenaked Ladies and performing a few tunes with them, got to meet him and get a selfie. He was super nice. Hell of a songwriter and performer, if you have the chance to see him you should take it!
posted by jzb at 12:36 PM on September 11

He was the featured guest on a great episode of Pete Holmes' podcast, recorded live at the Largo club in LA.
posted by Clustercuss at 1:43 PM on September 11

Excellent doc - thx hippybear.
posted by whatevernot at 2:31 PM on September 11 [1 favorite]

The 1999 incarnation of Men at Work released the absolutely sublime "The Longest Night" as a single and is a gem
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:50 PM on September 11

I saw him in Monterey, CA last year. As a longtime fan but first timer seeing him live, I was not prepared for just how affable he was up there.
posted by pmbuko at 2:54 PM on September 11

I'm old and remember Men at Work being played all over the place. I remember the videos on our old rabbit ear CRTV. Seems like about every five years I read something about how great Colin Hay is/was as a musician. I agree! So I listen to Colin Hay stuff for a while and then drift off. Another 4.75 years go by and someone reminds me again!

posted by SoberHighland at 5:11 PM on September 11

Who can it bee now
posted by Dokterrock at 7:13 PM on September 11 [5 favorites]

Men at Work was one of the first records I bought with my paper route money, and the first live show I went to where it was my choice. I was in 6th grade, and it was pretty great.
posted by umbú at 8:13 PM on September 11

I remember coming across Colin Hay's Beautiful World

God damn I love that song. An all-time favorite.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:38 AM on September 12

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