Death inspired Colin Hay’s latest album, ‘Gathering Mercury.’ The passing of Hay’s father, who died at 87 in 2010, prompted the former leader of Men at Work to write a collection of songs in memory of the patriarch of his family.
“I didn’t just focus on his death,” Hay said during a telephone interview from Harrisburg. “I went all the way back in my life to think about all the things I did with him. I was just devastated by his death. It had a massive impact on me so I had to write some songs.”
It’s too early to tell if Hay will be moved to write tunes that pay tribute to his longtime friend Greg Ham, who was his former Men At Work bandmate.
Ham passed away suddenly last week in Australia.
“It’s horrible,” Hay said. “It’s completely shocking. I’ve been thinking about Greg a lot and it has nothing to do with our time with Men At Work. It has to do with our friendship, which predates the band. We were friends since high school. The memories I treasure most with him aren’t in the studio or on stage but having dinner and Greg making me laugh so much. Greg was one of those rare individuals, who had a true heart of gold.”
Hay, 58, who will perform Saturday at the Keswick Theater, is mourning the loss of his friend. Words come slowly for the tunesmith when speaking about Ham. However, Hay lives by the cliché that the show must go on.
“This is what I do,” Hay said. “I’ll be out there but I’m always out there.”
That was even so during the lean ‘90s years when Hay’s popularity dropped.
“I remember going out to play a room with 15 people in it,” Hay said. “I thought, ‘why am Ieaving my home for this?’ But it’s what I do and I kept plugging away.”
Hay, 57, will deliver much of ‘Gathering Mercury’ but also expect plenty of his cerebral and catchy solo material as well as cuts from Men At Work, which launched his career during the early ‘80s.
“I certainly have a large canon of music,” Hay said. “I have plenty to choose from and that’s a good thing. I have a good idea of what I’ll do when I go back to the Keswick.”