This week, 20 years ago Savage Garden released their second and what would be their final studio album, “Affirmation”. Anyone that knows me, knows that Savage Garden (and Darren Hayes) are my favorite band. They are the band that really turned me into a music lover. I wanted to learn every lyric. I studied every song. I collected every CD, b-side, remix. I read and watched every interview and recorded every tv performance.
Savage Garden were a major part of my late teens/early 20’s and I still enjoy their music as I’m now approaching my 40’s. What they were able to achieve in such a short period is nothing short of remarkable. They crafted infectious pop songs, with meaningful and powerful lyrics, that when played today still sound relevant and fresh. Even though they only released two studio albums, they had enough hits to warrant releasing a Best Of album. I mean, what band can release a Best Of album, stacked with certified singles after two albums? This is a true testament to the caliber and quality of songs they produced.
Getting back to “Affirmation,” I can vividly remember hearing the album for the first time. Back in 1999, new albums were released on Mondays. I was in my first year at university and because I had a full timetable in the morning I had to wait for lunch before I could quickly drive over to the shopping mall, collect my pre-order CD and drive back to the campus. At the time my car only had a tape deck, so I couldn’t even play the album on the way back to uni. I raced to one of the computer labs, put my headphones on and listened completely uninterrupted from start the finish.
That night when I got home, I probably played the album 2-3 times and I recorded it to cassette so I could listen to it in the car. The tape probably didn’t leave the player for a solid month, it’s the only thing I was listening to. To this day I still remember 99% of the lyrics.
The “Affirmation” era began with the track, “The Animal Song.” A single which featured in the movie “The Other Sister” and was originally intended to be a “bridge track” between albums. The memory I have of this song is that it was released around the time I was supposed to be concentrating on my future and readying myself for university. My mum was constantly asking me to focus on what degree I was choosing and what classes I would take, whereas all I wanted to do was escape and listen to this song. I just wanted to “run through the jungle, with wind in my hair and the sand at my feet.”
The next single to be taken from “Affirmation” was the international #1 smash, “I Knew I Loved You.” I don’t think this song needs an introduction, it was a global hit and I still hear it on the radio from time to time.
Many years later, Darren Hayes would upload a live acoustic demo of the song to his YouTube account. The day it dropped just happened to be the day I was leaving my friends, my family, my entire life in Australia to embark on a new life and job in America. I remember listening to it in the airport, tears in my eyes. Sad that I was leaving all my loved ones behind. Scared of making such a momentous move. Excited for the journey ahead of me. Proud for taken such a gigantic leap of faith. And hopeful that I would find love.
Little did I know, two years later I would meet and fall in love, “I dreamed you into my life.” Although we aren’t together anymore, life took us down separate paths, we remain the best of friends. We spent an incredible and amazing time together with many adventures, creating memories I will hold in my heart forever. “And there it goes, I think I found my best friend.”
“Crash and Burn” was the third single, a song that has an incredibly powerful and important message, especially in the current social media climate we live in today. It discusses the human nature of wanting to feel connected, to feel loved. It also touches on mental health issues, anxiety, stress, depression. Having an older brother who suffers and struggles with bipolar, the song is very dear to me. I’ve lived this song. I’ve seen my brother at his absolute low. I personally have had to make some excruciating painful decisions in order to keep him safe, safe from himself.
It’s a reminder that “connection” can be so powerful. A simple text to let someone know you are thinking of them. A coffee and a chat with a friend, listening to whatever is going on in their life. Making the time to show up and be present for someone. Saying, “Good morning” and “Have a nice day” to the stranger in the elevator. You never know what someone might be dealing with. Making a “connection” with a friend, family member or even a stranger could completely change the trajectory of their day and brighten their entire World.
The next single to be released was the title track, “Affirmation,” a fast paced song that features a string of statements all beginning with “I believe.”
I believe we place our happiness in other people’s hands
I believe I’m loved when I’m completely by myself alone
I believe that your most attractive features are your heart and soul
I believe that family is worth more than money or goldI believe in love surviving death into eternity
I’ve always loved this song and live and breathe every lyric.
In Australia, the b-side track on the “Affirmation” single was a song called “I Don’t Care.” I’ve always been someone that has a positive, cheery and upbeat demeanor. I try to look for silver linings in every situation. I’m the reliable friend that can always be counted on to do the right thing, be there for anyone when they need help. I’m very respectful of peoples opinions and feelings. In the past I’ve been told “You’re too nice” and “You care too much,” as if these were negative characteristics and qualities to have. After awhile you think, “Maybe I need to change that about me.” As a young adult, “I Don’t Care” was the song that I needed at that time in my life. I truly believe it helped shape my psyche. I didn’t need to listen to these people. I was happy with the person I was. I didn’t have to change to please anyone. I am a good person.
People tell me that I need too much
People tell me that I feel too much
But I don’t care; no, I don’t care
Savage Garden would go on to release three more singles from the “Affirmation” album, “Chained To You,” “Hold Me” and “The Best Thing.” Of the remaining five tracks, any one of them had the potential to be a single. It truly demonstrates the depth and quality of songs Savage Garden were producing. And why they will always be regarded as one of Australia’s most successful bands.
Whilst I was saddened hearing that the band split, I completely understand and respect the decision to end things. The fact is, the songs have lived on throughout Darren’s solo career. He has always included Savage Garden songs in his live shows. Darren has since gone on to release four incredible solo albums and one side project album, We Are Smug. But that’s a discussion for another blog post.
After having the “Affirmation” album on repeat this weekend I feel so thankful to both Darren Hayes and Daniel Jones for sharing these songs and their talents with me and the World. There’s really no amount of words to show my gratitude for the joy and comfort these songs have given me over the last 20 years. And I will continue listening to them for another 20 years.
As I’ve mentioned, there’s a lot of powerful and meaningful lyrics throughout the entire “Affirmation” album. I’ll close this entry with those that have had the most impact on me:
Because there has always been heartache and pain
And when it’s over, you’ll breathe again
You’ll breathe again
You can listen to Savage Garden’s Affirmation album on Spotify here.
Savage Garden – Spotify | Twitter
Darren Hayes – Spotify | Twitter