- Publish Date
- Sunday, 31 May 2020, 1:37PM
Neil Finn has been singing on the biggest stages in the world with Fleetwood Mac but his latest initiative is closer to home.
The Crowded House and Split Enz frontman has written a song about Auckland's homeless to help raise money for the Auckland City Mission's new building on Hobson Street.
He enlisted bandmate and original Fleetwood Mac superstar Stevie Nicks on the track, Find Your Way Back Home, which is being released to coincide with the city mission's centenary next month.
"I'm honoured to be a part of Neil's song for the Auckland City Mission" Nicks said. "He is on a mission to make this work and I think this beautiful song he has written will certainly help".
Finn, speaking to the Herald from his home in Los Angeles, said the song was partly inspired by an encounter he had at the city mission with someone from his childhood.
He had met the person briefly at his brother's birthday party and was rattled to find him at a homeless shelter a few years ago.
"There are all these people in all of our lives, I think, that we drift away from," he said. That was on his mind as he wrote the song's lyrics.
"I didn't know them but there was a story there, that was a connection that I made. It just puts it in your backyard.
"I live in a pretty fortunate situation and I move in circles that are not in daily contact with homeless people. So it's good to be able to find a pathway in your head to relate to some degree."
He admits that he agonised over the song for months while he was on tour with Fleetwood Mac, obsessively tweaking it and bringing in more musicians to help him, including another band member, Christine McVie.
"I guess I had every incentive to make sure that the words were evocative, simple, relatable, truthful and not crass or message-y.
"It's easy to be nebulous and abstract and I'm quite good at that in my songs generally. So to be direct in a way is a real challenge."
HomeGround, the Auckland City Mission's new building, will be nine storeys high and include 80 apartments, more detox beds, a larger medical centre, job training, and other services. Photo / Supplied.
While he has occasionally lent a hand to charitable causes, Finn said he did not see himself as an activist.
"I haven't felt compelled to go down that path in terms of speaking out. But in terms of trying to do some kindly acts as you strike situations, I think that's compulsive and we should all be trying to do that."
He had long been an admirer of the city mission's work, and had a connection to it through his friend and architect Nicholas Stevens, who helped design its new $110m building called HomeGround.
"I saw the design and … it seemed quite a groundbreaking thing to do for the homeless of Auckland," Finn said. "I think there would be very few places in the world which would have such an ambitious building project [and a] welcoming space for people."
The nine-storey building is part of a plan by the city mission to eliminate homelessness in Auckland rather than simply manage it. It includes 80 apartments which will be permanent homes for chronically homeless people.
City Missioner Chris Farrelly said he was in awe of the Finn family's generosity: "It seems fitting, in our centenary, to be given a song about the meaning of home."
The Government has contributed $35m to the building's construction, which is expected to be completed next year, The city mission has received a donation of $10m, raised around $30m, and is fundraising for the remaining $23m.
Finn said he hoped proceeds from his song would "put the last coat of paint on it".
Find Your Way Home is available for download on Spotify on June 2
This article was originally published at NZ Herald and reproduced here with permission.