Love Letter To A Record: Papaya Tree’s Lee McDermott On Crowded House’s ‘Woodface’

Many of us can link a certain album to pivotal moments in our lives. Whether it’s the first record you bought with your own money, the chord you first learnt to play on guitar, the song that soundtracked your first kiss, the album that got you those awkward and painful pubescent years or the one that set off light bulbs in your brain and inspired you to take a big leap of faith into the unknown – music is often the catalyst for change in our lives and can even help shape who we become.

In this series, Music Feeds asks artists to reflect on their relationship with music and share with us stories about the effect music has had on their lives.

Papaya Tree – Woodface by Crowded House

My Dear Sweet Woodface,

I often wonder what our lives would be like if you were actually made of real New Zealand pine as opposed to your vinyl/tape/digital existence? Would your droopy face be covered in rot, considering your age? Would the termites, much like the earworms buried in your tracks, eat away day and night until there’s nothing left? Finally, if your Woodface fell in a forest with nobody around, would it sound like the silky-smooth vocal harmonies of Neil and Tim Finn?

Nevertheless, I think it’s time we talk about the real you. Do you remember where we first met? That night on my parents’ CD shelf will live in infamy in our timeline. I had just finished a long and winding relationship with your stepsister, Dizrythmia by Split Enz. Oh, I hope that this is not the way you find out about that, surely you two still talk. Dizrythmia gave me what I needed to like music — this I admit — but you, my sweet, taught me to love, to dance, to sing and to write.

“Why did you choose me?” I hear you giggle. My darling, I believe you chose me. From the opening track ‘Chocolate Cake’ I was mesmerised by your charm and your clever wit. Of course, I knew songs had lyrics, but you were the first album that had an effortless journey of reoccurring themes. Take ‘Chocolate Cake’ for example; the excess fat on your American bones will cushion the impact as you sink like a stone.” I thought that was so in your face, so bold and yet so poetic. You showed me that songs could be a repartee, not just a 3:30 minute pretty ditty that people dance too.

You burn slowly, like a soft vanilla candle. Although your lyrical content hits hard and heavy, the instrumentation in you is whimsical, delicate and charming. I mean, just look at ‘Weather With You’. From the tuned percussion splattered throughout the track, to the acoustic guitar that carries us throughout and finally the sweet vocals layered within, you are a masterpiece. Oh, Neil and Tim, your airy, brotherly duets sure know how to make a boy swoon.

At the end of the day, although I don’t yell your praises from the mountain tops, you made me the musician I am today. You taught me to not just make a song for the sake of making a song. You told me to be a storyteller. You told me to write lines that inspire and sit in the minds of others. To write lines like “the finger of blame has turned upon itself” and “I’d give anything to be a fly on the wall and hear your whispers and moans”. You told me to be clever in my structuring. You told me to layer a song so that every time you listen, you will find something that would almost appear lost in the mix but to one person, some person out there it becomes their favourite part, like the harmonica part in ‘Italian Plastic’.

I don’t wish to keep you too long past your 48-minute run-time, but I also never want you to leave. Alas, all good things must pass. Your timeless grace will never weary my hungry ears, only emphasised by how often you are spun on my vinyl player and on our beloved WSFM.

Woodface, you can take me where you will, whether it be up the creek and through the mill. And like all the things you can’t explain, four seasons in one day.

Until I spin you again Woodface,


Sydney-based sextet Papaya Tree’s indie rock masterpiece of a new single ‘Youth’ is out now. Listen and catch all the info about their celebratory live dates below.

Papaya Tree Live Dates

Friday, 30th November
Three Eight Six @ Chasers, Melbourne

Saturday, 1st December
Waywards, Newtown

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