Hunters & Collectors: When An Anthem Goes Astray

Not everyone is keen on how Throw Your Arms has evolved over the years.

Author:  David Brearley, The Australian.

Date: 20 July 2019.

Original URL: https://www.theaustralian.com.au/arts/review/hunters-collectors-when-an-anthem-goes-astray/news-story/1cb7e851e994e003318a0836971ac316

 

Article Text

Some songs are immaculate conceptions, born perfect. They might be sophisticated, like God Only Knows by the Beach Boys, or barnyard simple, like Walking on Sunshine by Katrina and the Waves. Or they might be somewhere in between, like Throw Your Arms Around Me by Hunters & Collectors, which arrived fully formed in the spring of 1984.

It was Mark Seymour’s first attempt at conventional melodic songwriting but the craft was all there. The performances were tough and sparse, and intimate, and the production was dripping with that stand-and-deliver authenticity that made Hunters the band they were. It was a beautiful song. But it was also a siren.

Musicians have felt compelled not so much to cover Throw Your Arms Around Me as to lavish themselves upon it, with ever diminishing returns. Hunters took it back to the studio twice after 1984, loving it more tenderly for less effect at each pass.

Seymour recorded it unplugged as a solo artist. Pearl Jam did it. Then Crowded House. Then Neil Finn did it as a duet with Eddie Vedder, who backed up for a duet with Seymour. Kate Ceberano drowned it in molasses. Yellow Wiggle Greg Page gave it the Nashville-lite treatment.

In time the comedians got involved, but there was nothing funny about Paul McDermott, who was so damn reverent with this lovely little pop song that he channelled Michael Crawford.

This is the thing with Throw Your Arms Around Me. People invest it with too much gravitas. Successive versions get slower, more saccharine, more overwrought, probably more expensive, certainly more self-aware. The latest incarnation, for an NRMA advertising campaign, is an abomination.

It doesn’t help that the lyric “I will squeeze the life out of you” is juxtaposed with vision of a strapping fireman cradling a koala in his arms.

 

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