“Imagine being that good”: the guitarist Johnny Marr and Elvis Costello agreed had a “god given gift for melody”

The moment came when the pair were watching the guitarist soundcheck in 1999

Johnny Marr and Elvis Costello

Johnny Marr and Elvis Costello. Credit: C Brandon/Iwi Onodera

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Johnny Marr has sung the praises of Neil Finn, recalling a moment during one of his shows where he and Elvis Costello agreed had a “God-given gift for melody”.

A new interview appears with Finn himself in the new issue of MOJO, but within it, Marr is also interviewed about the specific moment when he realised what a talent the Crowded House guitarist is.

“I was at the Concert For Linda in 1999, watching Neil soundcheck Don’t Dream It’s Over when Elvis Costello leant in and said, ‘Imagine being that good.’ That’s Neil. His songs are so seamless you don’t notice at first how clever they are and he has this God-given gift for melody.”

Neil Finn
Neil Finn of Crowded House performs on stage at the Global Citizen NOW: Melbourne & Global Citizen Nights at the Palais Theatre on March 6, 2024 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Kim Landy/Getty Images for Global Citizen)

Elsewhere in the interview, Finn himself speaks about his formative years making music. He reveals that his earliest musical memory involved hearing Love Me Do at the age of four, which was one of the few singles his family owned.

“There was Pat Boone’s Love Letters In The Sand, then Get Off Of My Cloud and Green, Green by The New Christy Minstrels, which still pops into my head all the time,” he elaborates.

He continues: “Dad hated being an accountant but he’d come home, sit with a glass of whiskey and listen to Count Basie and Benny Goodman. At the time I thought it was old-fashioned but it’s ingrained in me. I listen to it often now.”


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