"CNN Newsroom" recently talked to Colin Hay about his newest album Gathering Mercury, in a featured interview airing now. Hay revealed to anchor Brooke Baldwin the emotional context of the album, citing the death of his father as the genesis of the new songs. “I was playing in Glasgow, 20 streets away from where he was born the night he passed…it was devastating. It seemed like a place to put that energy, that mourning, the kind when the heart is broken. It was my first real tragedy. Everyone has a tale like that and can share in that. It (the songs) was a place to put those tears and emotion. Even if the songs aren't directly about it’s the context of mortality and what happens -- Am I gonna’ see him again?…did he go to the other side?... all of that.”
Even though the CNN headlines the story “Men At Work, Where Is He Now?” Colin Hay hasn't been out of site at all. Hay’s justifiably proud of his place in pop history, but since moving to Los Angeles in 1989, he’s made 11 solo albums and reintroduced himself to a new generation of fans. The timeless appeal of his songs -- quizzical, curious, cynical yet openhearted -- have been embraced by TV and film, and he’s consistently toured, with his recent US tour boasting a string of sold out shows, including three in New York last week. While in New York, director and actor Zach Braff, who featured Hay on his hit show “Scrubs,” shot a new performance video of Hay’s current single “Send Somebody.”
Hay is expressly grateful for where is his today, and the lessons learned -which he expressed in a much-passed-around 'email of the day' to music-industry provocateur Bob Lefsetz in response to a post about slowly building core audiences.
"My first show in Melbourne after MAW (Men At Work) split attracted 4 people. Now after a decade plus, my audience has grown. It's good work, rewarding, nourishing and funny...After the shows I sign cds. I like it. I meet all kinds of people for a minute or so. It’s important to me because when I got dropped by a major label, my live audience was all I had, apart from my self belief, to let me know I was on the correct path. They also, for the most part, let me be myself. And isn’t that what we all want at any given moment, to be who we are, and not who someone else wants us to be.
Last year I was sound checking at a delightful venue, and I was filled with an inexplicable euphoria. Its intensity lasted a few seconds but it was powerful. A simple experience, the wait staff was setting up tables for the night, the sound crew were twiddling knobs, and I realized that I was exactly where I should be, doing exactly what I should be doing, and all was well in my world...I did make a big splash, I did descend into obscurity, and alcoholism. But, my salvation was, and still is, artistic expression, and a vague quest to strip away and reveal something essential, which is seductive, and ever elusive."
Hay wraps this leg of his US Tour on May 11thwith a show at Largo to benefit the Grammy Foundation, MusiCares. He tours overseas before coming back for a fall tour beginning in September.