A Long-Forgotten Moment Of Magic

I dug out an old, rickety cassette tape this afternoon to perk me up while I plough through more freelance writing than any sane woman should ever take on and expect to finish in one weekend. It was a crackly, ancient recording of Crowded House playing the Fleadh Festival in Finsbury Park on 11 June 1994, and as I listened I suddenly recalled how Crowded House were responsible for one of the most wonderfully serendipitous moments of my life.

Remember August 1997’s total eclipse of the sun? I spent it surrounded by pheasants and songbirds, standing in a field somewhere between Paignton and Brixham in Devon, and I’d decided to listen to Crowded House at Fleadh singing “Distant Sun” while the moon moved across that giant orb above me because, hey, perfect or what?

So before the eclipse began I stood in anticipation and pressed “Play” on my Walkman, immersing myself in the song “Fingers Of Love” as I waited for the moon to slide into view.

Time rolled on. The eclipse was about to start. The songbirds stopped singing.

Then Neil Finn’s voice, smooth in my ears, started to ad-lib as he spoke over the last, ominous chords of “Fingers Of Love”:

“Here comes the moon
Looking over the hill…”

A chill ran up my back. The moon sliced into the sun and the world around me turned to gold.

“Look at that sky, it’s amazing!” cried Neil.

Then Crowded House launched into the best live version of “Distant Sun” they ever gave.

Logically, I knew Neil Finn was talking about the sky above Finsbury Park on 11 June 1994. But he was also talking about the sky above a lonely field between Paignton and Brixham on 11 August 1999. It was, quite possibly, the single most electrifying coincedence I’ve ever had happen to me, and coupled with the magic of a total eclipse of the sun, it’s one that will remain with me until the day I die.

Listening to the concert again just now, I felt goosebumps rise up on my arms at the memory.

“When your seven worlds collide
Whenever I am by your side
And dust from a distant sun
Will shower over everyone…”

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is just one of the reasons why I’m so happy that Crowded House have reformed.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “A Long-Forgotten Moment Of Magic

  1. Steph Swainston

    I remember that total eclipse. I was standing on the roof of a bookshop in Oxford (we climbed up the fire escape and out through the ceiling). As the light dimmed and yellowed, I looked round and saw all the roofs around me were full of people. It was like standing high on Grand Canyon outcrops and the roads were deep gorges between us.

    The pigeons and starlings reacted to the sudden dusk. They started gathering in flocks and whirling around to roost.

    Through the sun’s reflection in a puddle, I watched it being nibbled away. Then of course I looked at it straight. I had to.

  2. Badger Madge

    I was also in Oxford (!) off to work at the Fuggle and Firkin in Gloucester Green. I’ll always remember the strange light, the birds starting to nest and getting over excited and looking at the sun instead of thru those silly holey paper things they showed us how to make days before…

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