I used to be a big fan of INXS and thought front man Michael Hutchence was really hot! Sadly he was a troubled soul and took his own life by hanging himself in the closet of his hotel room in Sydney in 1999. So they are my pick for this week’s Song Lyric Sunday, Australian Music, hosted by Jim Adams. I chose their well known hit “Need You Tonight”
A documentary on Michael Hutchence’s revealed some insights into his life and state of mind at the time of his suicide. You can read about it here in Rolling Stone.
“Need You Tonight” is basically a musical booty call, with lines that could work if you’re Michael Hutchence (“All you got is this moment,” “There’s something about you girl that makes me sweat”), but would get the rest of us laughed out of the room. It’s not clear how his night ends, but he takes his best shot at the end:I’ve got to let you know
You’re one of my kindHutchence didn’t overthink it – he wrote the lyric in one night.
For the Kick album, INXS tried a different approach, with Michael Hutchence and Andrew Farriss (multi-instrumentalist for the band) doing all the songwriting. They wrote “Need You Tonight” and a few other tracks on the album at a studio in Hong Kong, where they worked for two weeks. Farriss came up with the rhythm track on a Roland 707 drum machine in a flash just before leaving for the airport – he was still working on it when the cab driver arrived, so he had the cabbie wait while he recorded a quick demo on cassette.In Hong Kong, he played Hutchence the cassette and Michael wrote the lyrics on the spot in about an hour, creating a sensual storyline to fit the mood of the music. Farriss brought his drum machine with him and was able rebuild the track, adding the guitar riff and a bass line he played on a keyboard bass. With Hutchence adding vocals, they recorded a proper demo of the song that they took back to Sydney, where they recorded it with their bandmates. The way the song came together that day was the same way they recorded it. The drum machine stayed, but their live drummer, Jon Farriss (one of three brothers in the band), added cymbals, toms and fills.
This was the song that launched INXS to global stardom. They had released five albums and were huge in their native Australia, but were just starting to get noticed in most other countries. Many Americans knew the band from their MTV hit “What You Need,” but they had little draw in that country. Atlantic Records knew the Kick album was a chance to break them in America, but the label pushed back when they heard the album, deeming it out of touch. INXS’ manager, Chris Murphy, addressed their concerns by setting up a tour of American colleges to promote “Need You Tonight” as the first single. If this small-scale effort went well, Atlantic could put more promotional might behind the album knowing it had at least a niche audience.So, when the single and album were released in October 1987, INXS was dispatched to places like Kalamazoo, Michigan and Poughkeepsie, New York, where they played colleges. As hoped, the tour got a great reaction and college radio stations jumped on “Need You Tonight.” Their fears assuaged, Atlantic pushed the song to commercial radio stations, which added it to their playlists.
MTV put the video in hot rotation, and on January 30, 1988, “Need You Tonight” went to #1 in America. “Devil Inside,” “New Sensation” and “Never Tear Us Apart” were the next three singles, keeping INXS on the air throughout 1988, while Kick stayed in the upper end of the albums chart the entire year.
The transition to Bono-level superstar frontman was a tumultuous one for Michael Hutchence, who struggled to stay grounded. While his bandmates formed families away from the public eye, his every move – especially his high-profile relationship with Kylie Minogue – was covered in the entertainment press. INXS didn’t release another album until 1990 when they returned with X. It was a success, but subsequent releases had more narrow appeal. Hutchence had a daughter, Tiger Lily, in 1996 with the British TV personality Paula Yates. Struggling with depression and away from his daughter, he committed suicide in 1997.
“Need You Tonight” segues seamlessly into the next track on the album, a poem Andrew Farriss wrote and put to music called “Mediate.” Both tracks are in the same tempo and based on the same drum machine groove, so they flow together very well. When the band heard how well they stitched together, they decided to segue them, à la Queen with “We Will Rock You” into “We Are The Champions.” Many radio stations play the songs together, which is how they appear in the video.
At 2:30, there’s a fake ending after Michael Hutchence sings, “I’m Lonely.” That was the only significant change the band made to the original demo
Courtesy of Songfacts
Come over here All you've got is this moment Twenty-first century's yesterday You can care all you want Everybody does, yeah, that's okay So slide over here and give me a moment Your moves are so raw, I've got to let you know I've got to let you know You're one of my kind I need you tonight 'Cause I'm not sleepin' There's somethin' about you, girl That makes me sweat How do you feel? I'm lonely What do you think? Can't think at all What you gonna do? Gonna live my life So slide over here and give me a moment Your moves are so raw, I've got to let you know I've got to let you know You're one of my kind I need you tonight 'Cause I'm not sleepin' There's somethin' about you, girl That makes me sweat So how do you feel? I'm lonely What do you think? Can't think at all What you gonna do? Gonna live my life How do you feel? I'm lonely What do you think? Can't think at all What you gonna do? Gonna live my life So slide over here and give me a moment Your moves are so raw, I've got to let you know I've got to let you know So slide over here and give me a moment I've got to let you know, I've got to let you know You're one of my kind Source: LyricFind Songwriters: Andrew Charles Farriss / Michael Kelland Hutchence Need You Tonight lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group, Warner Chappell Music, Inc