This past year was a long year for all of us. No restaurants, movie theaters, parties or concerts. The lockdown came just as Colin Hay was preparing to leave for what he considered his most comprehensive North American tour ever. A few dates were played before venues were sealed shut. Now, as the world slowly and surely resumes some semblance of normalcy, Hay is heading out on the road for real.
Renowned globally as frontman in the Australian band Men at Work, Hay has since proven himself as a solo artist, touring with his own L.A.-based band and as part of Ringo Starr’s All-Starr Band. But his love for music was born in his native Scotland, where, working at his parents record store, he heard all the hits of the day, from the Kinks’ “Waterloo Sunset” to Faces’ “Ooh La La” to Dusty Springfield’s “I Just Don't Know What to Do With Myself.” At home during quarantine in early 2021, he read that Gerry Marsden had died and found himself strumming the Gerry and the Pacemakers’ Merseybeat hit, “Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying.” He decided to turn on the tape machines and share with his frequent collaborator/producer, Chad Fischer, who asked for more of the same.
Thus followed the recording of I Just Don’t Know What to Do With Myself, a new studio album set for August 6 release featuring ten versions of some of Colin’s particular favorites — songs tied to memories and eras in his life. These lushly arranged versions showcase Hay’s ability to interpret a song and remind one just how instantly recognizable his voice is. While most of the songs are from the ’60s, Hay does a moving version of Scottish group Del Amitri’s heartbreaking “Driving With the Brakes On,” which he calls “simply one of the best songs ever written.”
In addition to I Just Don’t Know What to Do With Myself, Hay is at work on a collection of originals. Those who attend his summer shows may get a preview of those songs, as well as a retrospective of his Men at Work and solo years.