Neil Finn talks Fleetwood Mac, new Crowded House music and why he loves that 'Don't Dream it's Over' cover by Miley Cyrus and Ariana Grande

Neil Finn recently spoke to Yahoo Entertainment about the new Crowded House album, Dreamers Are Waiting, his role in the recently reunited Fleetwood Mac and the legacy of his biggest hit, "Don't Dream It's Over."

Finn specifically enjoys a cover of the song performed by Miley Cyrus and Ariana Grande.

"I really liked what they did," he said. "You know, they did it recently faithfully to the record with an acoustic version of the record, but they just sang it really well."

Watch the full interview with Finn above.

Video Transcript

LYNDSEY PARKER: This is the first Crowded House record under the name Crowded House that you've done in-- am I right, about a decade? It's been 10 years?

NEIL FINN: 10 years, yeah.

LYNDSEY PARKER: So I guess the obvious first question is, why the break, and why was this the right time to do it again?

NEIL FINN: A couple of different reasons, one being that I'd been playing a lot with Elroy and Liam, my sons, in recent years. And also, I had the good fortune to play with Mitchell a few times, and Nick in a different context. It just sort of dropped into my head one day that what an-- what an in-- incredible lineup that would be for Crowded House, everyone deeply connected with the history and the soul of that band, and the aesthetic, and the humor.

Of course-- that's a real development for Crowded House. It has potential in the future. There's an occasion, sense of occasion when it's a Crowded House record. So I suppose all of those things congealed in my mind.

And coming off the back of Fleetwood Mac also, and having the experience of being in the midst of a classic band that had once again redefined itself, and made-- found a new way of presenting it and it felt live-- like, full of life and vitality. And I thought, [INAUDIBLE] it's good to think outside the square.

LYNDSEY PARKER: Obviously, it was a huge deal when you joined Fleetwood Mac. I don't think anyone saw that coming, you or Mike. I mean, the Mike Campbell thing, you kind of-- it makes sense, you know-- Stevie did stuff with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. You met, you know, their friends.

But how did you come into the fold? Were they fans of Split Enz, Crowded House? Did you know them? I wasn't under the impression you knew them-- anyone in-- Mick, or anyone in the band before.

NEIL FINN: I'd met them years earlier at a benefit concert for Linda McCartney at the Albert Hall. And it was only a brief meeting. We had a really good chat.

But we kind of both left that saying, ah, it'd be good to do something together. I think he was in a-- sort of an off phase for Fleetwood Mac. And we-- but it often happens with musicians. You go, wow, that'd be really good to do some playing together sometime. And it kind of usually never happens.

But-- and I saw him years later in New Zealand. He was at the Music Awards here, and I was at the Music Awards-- both really strange circumstances, that he would be here doing that, and I never go to Music Awards anymore. I was giving an award to somebody for Lifetime Achievement.

We met in the corridor, and went out, and had dinner that night, and just reconnected. And I think Mick's that sort of guy. He has these threads going on in his mind. He's a-- you know, he calls Stevie an incurable romantic. He's the incurable romantic, I think, about bands, and about having a band.

And I think he's always got some little idea in his head of, you know, somebody he's following. And he-- he was an admirer of some of my songs in Crowded House. I'm not sure he knew about everything, but yeah, but it was the last thing I was expecting.

He put my name forward at a point where I had tried a couple of people. They had Mike already in the lineup, but they needed somebody to be able to sing Lindsey's songs, basically, and harmonize, and make a good sound with the three of us. So yeah, it was a shock when he rang me on an afternoon, and took about 20 minutes getting-- coming around to actually asking me-- talked around it, as he is inclined to do as well-- and said, do you want to come to Hawaii and play, and see if it feels good?

And I was not entirely sure, as flattered and as amazed as I was by the offer, whether it's the sort of thing I should be doing. But my family said, what, you're not going to go and stand in the rehearsal room, and sing with Stevie and Christine, and play with John and Mick? I mean, are you crazy?


NEIL FINN: Even if it didn't work out, they just said, you know, that's an experience that a musician should have if they've given the chance. And of course, it was, and I did.

LYNDSEY PARKER: Were you nervous that day?

NEIL FINN: Yeah, and I don't normally get that nervous for things. But I was nervous because it was an unfamiliar role. I didn't know-- and on the first day-- we did two days. And the first day was harder to gauge what was going on.

Second day, it really clicked, for one reason or another, and seemed entirely obvious. It's always seem good when we sang together straight away, you know? Like, the voices sounded good together. And that was, in a way, the main thing.

LYNDSEY PARKER: And one thing that I thought was so pleasantly surprising, and obviously sets up the return of this Crowded House record, was the fact that both Mike Campbell and you got to play songs from your own catalog. You had like, your own spotlight, and you got to do "Don't Dream It's Over," and kind of reimagine it with Stevie Nicks.

NEIL FINN: The beautiful thing that happened was that in reimagining "Don't Dream It's Over," and having Stevie sing it with me, it set up a really great moment in the show. And I did feel-- I was nervous about it. I didn't want to impose my presence on it. It wasn't my idea. It was-- you know, the band wanted to do it. And they were very generous in that regard.


NEIL FINN: But It really worked--

LYNDSEY PARKER: --very cool.

NEIL FINN: It worked really well in the show. And it was, I think, a high point in some ways because of the intimate nature of it. And I was very honored and-- to be able to play acoustic guitar with Stevie doing "Landslide," just the two of us, having just done "Don't Dream It's Over." So that was kind of a special moment as well.

LYNDSEY PARKER: I feel like "Don't Dream It's Over" has taken so many new lives in pop culture. Was there like, a pop culture moment that stands out to you that's associated with that song?

NEIL FINN: Seeing Miley Cyrus and Ariana Grande sing a duet of it in animal outfits on her couch was pretty-- pretty good moment.

- (SINGING) Hey now, hey now--

- (SINGING) Don't dream it's over.

NEIL FINN: They did it reasonably faithfully to the record, with the acoustic version of the record. But they just sang it really well, I thought. So you know, I thought that was pretty-- I really liked it. I really love their version.

And I love the fact that that song goes out and has a life, you know? You never know where it's going to turn up. It's great-- that's the great-- one of the great mysteries and compulsions about music, is that-- and even some of the obscure stuff that you do, which doesn't get the attention of a song like that. Sometimes, people say they mean, individually, a lot to them, you know, from a really obscure record. And that's a really nice feeling.

LYNDSEY PARKER: I think you're such a fantastic songwriter. Besides "Don't Dream It's Over," is there another song from any of your catalog, across the board, that you think is like, the iconic Finn composition?

NEIL FINN: It's-- songs that-- that rise above the pack like "Don't Dream It's Over" take on special significance for people because they accompany a period of time in a big way, because it was everywhere, you know? Songs like, for me, "Fall At Your feet," equally-- I'm equally fond of.

And-- and certainly in this part of the world, and England, and-- it's almost as well known, I think. But it wasn't a hit in America. I mean, there's a few that I'm fond of.

And I'm actually really glad, at least, that "Don't Dream It's Over" is a song I really like, still. You know, to be-- a lot of-- there's people who have their biggest hit is a song that it seems like one of their least favorite. And they have that-- you know, they're doomed to it, to always have to play it and go, oh god, not this bloody song again.


NEIL FINN: So I'm really-- I really like "Don't Dream It's Over" still, and I'm proud of it. So you know, I'm happy about that.

LYNDSEY PARKER: Is the new album title, "Dreamers Are Waiting," is that a nod to the title?

NEIL FINN: We just originally thought, oh, that sounds like a good title. And for the times, you know, everyone's waiting for the-- to begin their life's dream again, you know? And that was partly-- but mostly, the motivation. But it had that nice little connection to "Don't Dream It's Over." And you know, it has multiple-- multiple sort of images springing to mind.

LYNDSEY PARKER: I do just have one more question about Fleetwood Mac. I am curious if the experience of touring with them influenced this record in any way, or like, in terms of the sound, or just how it-- like, playing with all those amazing players, with Mike, and collaborating with Stevie like, made you want to up your game, or-- how did that influence the making of "Dreamers Are Waiting," specifically?

NEIL FINN: Well, it definitely made me more aspirational for making a band record. And I came off doing the last Fleetwood Mac show, and went straight into rehearsals, literally the next day in LA with Crowded House. It wasn't necessarily planned that way, it just turned out that way.

But it was really fantastic, because there's a sort of energy you get from coming off the back [INAUDIBLE]. I was able to just put all that energy and all that stuff that we took in on those tours into the rehearsal room. And it wasn't that there was direct-- I wasn't sort of saying, god, I want to write a song like "Tell Me Lies" or something. But there was just this outgoing feeling about being in the midst of this band and the harmonies.

LYNDSEY PARKER: They did ask Mike Campbell this, and he didn't rule it out. But do you-- obviously, you're very focused now, very excitingly, with the new Crowded House record. But do you think there'd ever be-- it does feel like it really became such a band for the road-- do you really think you guys would ever do anything in the studio together with that lineup, with Mike Campbell?

NEIL FINN: It was always sort of something that was floating in the ether. You know, certainly, if you ask Mick, he'd be-- he'd say, yes, yes, yes, let's do it. Getting that group of people to focus at one time on something like that is the hard part. And it's not that there is a-- there'd be a will, but it's a big thing to move, and--

Yeah, but I'd say, you know, maybe. It depends how long this whole world is messed up with this pandemic. But sure, if it worked out, I'd be open to it. You know, I'd be-- I'd be delighted for them if they did anything else again, with or without me, to be honest. I'm really happy to have been part of it.

But I have great regard for them as a band. And their whole history means a lot--


NEIL FINN: --to people. So I think it's more for them that I-- that I would wish it than for myself, almost. I feel like I'm pretty lucky to have had the experience of music that I've had. And I'm still--


NEIL FINN: --counting my blessings, you know?