ARIA SONG OF THE YEAR _ POWDERFINGER

 

Powderfinger Mk 2

 

My Happiness (Powderfinger) – Powderfinger 2001

 

The band was touring nationally and cementing their reputation as a premier live band, the album Internationalist had won the ARIA Award for Best Rock Album and The Day You Come had won the award for Best Record, in 1999. But tension was beginning to surface, drummer Jon Coghill and front man Bernard Fanning were both alpha males who sought to dominate, but their albums were showing increasing signs of maturity and artful levels of experimentation. The band was however still mired in a tedious democratic vote-taking process about what and how to record, and what and when to release their records, and this tended to threaten the emergence of a truly cohesive group dynamic. The band’s next album was  Odyssey Number 5, recorded at Sing Sing Studios (Melb), and it would take the band into the major leagues, become their second successive #1 album, and occupy the charts for 68 weeks.

My Happiness was based on a riff that guitarist Darren Middleton had devised, but as usual the evolution of the song was a creative team effort, Fanning added melody, tambourines, and lyrics, Coghill and bassist John Collins laid down the rhythmic base and Ian Haug added his signature guitar lines. This song set the template for the rest of the album, it would chart at #9 nationally and become their first top ten single. Nick DiDia was back behind the production console and the vibe was good, until Nick suggested that Coghill might try to replicate a Ringo Starr drum infill on one track, and he was quickly rebuffed by the drummer.

My Happiness was the first single lifted off the Odyssey Number 5 album, like many great Australian songs – Golden Miles, Burn for You, Wide Open Road, Home on a Monday – it captures the loneliness of touring and the separation from family and loved ones, the alienation and sense of dispossession of life on the road, yet many interpreted it as being a romantic love song.

Rolling Stone’s review of My Happiness was fulsome in its praise “… packs a huge chorus and a message that could very nearly pass as uplifting… This is orgasm rock: songs that begin with a little acoustic foreplay and then build and swell to huge, soaring climaxes…”.

The promo clip underscores the lyrics which encourage people to deal with depression, to find happiness and fulfillment despite their quality of life, and not to succumb to feelings of estrangement or alienation.A small boy is inside his bedroom, the house in which tbis was shot was on the corner of Hawthorne Rd and Malcolm St. Hawthorn (Melb), in a surreal touch a slinky appears in the boy’s room, follows him through the streets to a live performance of the song by the band, for many fans My Happiness is known as the “slinky song”.

 

The band heard that Tom Cruise was a fan, and while filming Mission Impossible 2 in Sydney requested a song for the movie’s soundtrack, he ultimately chose My Kind of Scene for the album along with songs from Metallica, Foo Fighters, and Limp Bizkit. The album debuted at #2 on the US album charts and gave the band unimagined exposure to the North American market. In liner notes about their next tour of the US Fanning recalled that the band performed on the David Letterman show and played a nervous and freezing version of My Happiness where the on-set temperature was 14 degrees Celsius, and post-show “JC and Haggy adjourned to a New York bar, where they were comprehensively hustled by some Boston University card sharks.”

 

 

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