20 Albums 20 Years Later

No Matter What Mood You're Experiencing, Savage Garden's Emotion-Filled Debut Is Music To Your Ears

Savage Garden's debut album turns 20 this year.

20 Albums 20 Years Later remembers and explores the music that touched us back then and still resonates today. Join A Plus as we take another listen to albums released in 1997 and celebrate their contributions not only to the charts but to our lives.

Savage Garden — the Australian duo made up of vocalist Darren Hayes and instrumentalist Daniel Jones — entered into 1997 just as rock band U2 was beginning to experiment with their Pop album, and Hanson was blurring the lines between rock and pop. Maybe that's why the U.S. was ready to embrace the pair's brand of offbeat dance-rock, which was at once mystical, lyrically intriguing, and instantly relatable.


Through a collection of romantic, easy listening, and sensual pop vocals that were juxtaposed next to angsty alt-rock tracks, Savage Garden's self-titled debut delivered "panoramic pop," with Hayes acting like "a lyrical surgeon penetrating the heart." Nowhere was this truer than on Savage Garden's lead track, "To the Moon and Back."

“To the Moon and Back”

Though at least two music videos exist for this song — with an earlier version clearly looking like it was on a budget — the message of the futuristic-sounding single is clear: a young woman who feels alienated and lonely wishes to escape with her lover to a place where only the two of them can be together, with the moon being the obvious choice, of course. While the tune and its guitar riff might seem like a bratty teen's tantrum at first, the lyrics reveal a much deeper sense of loneliness that could be what she truly hopes to fly away from: "She's saying love is like a barren place / And reaching out for human faith is /Is like a journey I just don't have a map for / So baby's gonna take a dive and / Push the shift to overdrive / Send a signal that she's hanging all her hopes on the stars / What a pleasant dream." (We're curious, too, if the album's "Break Me Shake Me" is another chapter in this haunting story.)

“Truly Madly Deeply”

On a happier note, if you were in a relationship when Savage Garden was on the charts, it probably seemed like the band made "Truly Madly Deeply" just for you. Arguably their most popular song, the idealistic lyrics became the thing of proms and weddings throughout the late '90s. "And when the stars are shining brightly in the velvet sky / I'll make a wish, send it to heaven, then make you want to cry / The tears of joy for all the pleasure and the certainty / That we're surrounded by the comfort and protection of / The highest powers / In lonely hours / The tears devour you" — clearly there's some advanced level poetry among the slowed-down, sophisticated tune's melody. Equally soothing was Savage Garden's contemplative "Santa Monica," and the more adult talk of "Universe," though it was "Truly Madly Deeply" that scored the accolades of being the 1997 ARIA Music Awards' Single of the Year and Highest Selling Single.

“I Want You”

The first single released from Savage Garden was instantly addictive thanks to the breakout song's retro feel, fast-paced vocals, and the curious "chic-a-cherry cola" lyric. The easy-to-sing nature of the tune put Savage Garden on people's radar, and set the pulse for the many emotional dance-rock tunes that filled the album, including The Cure-esque "Tears of Pearls," funk-filled "A Thousand Words," orchestral "Carry On Dancing," and anthem rock sound-alike "Violet."

Savage Garden would release their follow-up album Affirmation in 1999, which featured "Truly Madly Deeply's" cousin "I Knew I Loved You," but unfortunately, the pair split up just a few years later. Hayes would kick off a solo career with the hauntingly seductive "Insatiable," though Savage Garden remains the base for much of his notoriety. With the emotive lyrics and poetic honesty, it's no wonder Savage Garden speaks to so many feelings and mindsets, from hormonal teenagers to brooding adults, and perhaps why its legacy has lasted for two solid decades.

Savage Garden is available on AmazonGoogle PlayiTunes, and Spotify.

Cover image: Roadshow Music / Columbia Records


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