Disc Doodles: Enzso
It’s pretty remarkable to me that I’ve been listening to the podcast Coverville for almost fifteen years. The show, which was released multiple times a week when I first started listening to it but is now weekly, is a music-centric podcast hosted by Brian Ibbott that focuses on cover songs. I first discovered Coverville while trying to track down a cover of Abba’s SOS that Tonic had performed for the Andrew Denton Breakfast Show. I admit that I was searching for an MP3 or some other kind of music file that I could illegally download but instead my searches just came up empty. The closest thing I could find about the cover was a reference in the show notes for an episode of Coverville (episode 270). I downloaded the episode just to hear the song and that one act is almost entirely responsible for me discovering some of my current favorite musicians and songs. I led a musically sheltered life as a kid. Unless a band was featured on the radio or appeared in the soundtrack for a teen sex comedy, chances are I wasn’t familiar with them. At some point, during high school, I tricked my brain into becoming a fan of nu metal in an effort to fit in with my friends. I convinced myself that stuff like Slipknot, Hatebreed and Mudvayne were the type of bands that I enjoyed listening to. I was lying to myself, but I didn’t know any better because my taste in music was pretty shitty to begin with. Once I went to college and had access to high speed internet and a file-sharing platform that connected every computer in the on-campus dorms to each other, I found my musical tastes opening up. But I was like an unadventurous kid in a candy store, obsessed with consuming all the sweet tastes I already knew but unwilling to venture outside my safety zone. Instead of discovering new musicians and genres, I was discovering new songs by my existing favorite artists. That led to my interest in cover songs. I love a good cover song. I love how it can transform something familiar into a new and exciting experience. I love how a change in a tempo or a new way a singer delivers a lyric can completely alter your perception of a beloved song. I became obsessed with cover songs and began trying to track down as many as I could. It’s a small miracle, then, that it took me nearly 300 episodes of it existing before I discovered Coverville. Every new episode would feature nearly an hour’s worth of cover songs, plus great background information about the songs and artists from Ibbott. Over the last decade and a half I have been introduced to an amazing assortment of artists - both contemporary and from before my time. Cover songs may be the entryway but Ibbott has helped provide an in-depth education about pop music through his shows. For example, when Ibbott would do an episode dedicated to Squeeze, a band I wasn’t familiar with, I was listening to songs by different artists covering Squeeze but then I would then go and seek out both the original music by Squeeze and also additional music from the bands that had covered Squeeze in the episode. Which leads me to today’s album, ENZSO. I was not familiar with Split Enz before listening to Coverville. I don’t have any real nostalgia for the songs on the album like I have for the previous two CDs I’ve written about. I had, of course, heard Crowded House’s DON’T DREAM IT’S OVER (it was featured in a few film and television soundtracks, my primary source of discovering music as a kid) but anything else Neil Finn had previously done had escaped my knowledge. ENZSO was a concept album developed by Split Enz’ member Eddie Rayner who took some of the previous hits from the band and arranged them for a symphony orchestra (ENZSO equalling Enz Symphony Orchestra, natch). After discovering Coverville, I proceeded to make my way through the show’s back catalog and, on episode 52, Ibbott included the ENZSO version of MESSAGE TO MY GIRL. I was sitting in a small office at a technical writing job I was currently working at, listening to the episode on a tinny, off-brand MP3 player, when I heard the song and started softly crying. It was so romantic, so cinematic, so lush in its arrangement. I was in love. I had never been so immediately impacted by a song like that before. MESSAGE TO MY GIRL remains one of my all-time-favorite songs. Well, specifically the ENZSO version of the song. I have listened to the original Split Enz version a few times but it just doesn’t live up to the symphonic version to my ears. Since the ENZSO album is not easily available to stream or download anywhere, I had to track down a physical CD copy of the album through eBay. There are a handful of other songs on the album I really enjoy - I SEE RED, STUFF ‘N NONSENSE and POOR BOY - but nothing compares to MESSAGE TO MY GIRL. I will keep this CD for as long as I can just for that one song. I will listen to Coverville for as long as I can in the hopes of discovering another song that impacts me in the same way.