Friday, October 10, 2008
Top Five Part Three: Grant McLennan Songs
As the lovable teddy bear half of the Go-Betweens, Grant McLennan was the heart to Robert Forster's head. Where Forster's songs gave listeners more to think about, McLennan's songs were often fan favorites based on pure resonance. Robert Forster was the mysterious rockstar you swooned over. Grant was the guitar playing guy that you felt like you could sit down and have a beer with. For this list, I'll be going through my favorite Grant songs from the Go-Betweens catalogue. Picking just five is going to be difficult. Ridiculously difficult.
#5 — "The Sound of Rain" (demo, 1978)
A travesty that this song was never revived after its initial demo. This predates Lindy Morrison's addition to the group and, as such, features original drummer Tim Mustapha. The song sounds like the blueprint for what would ultimately become the dark, shimmery, late night feel of Send Me A Lullaby. A surreal, Kerouac-ish voyage through a rainy Brisbane night coupled with that irresistable jangle makes for a brilliant moment. This song was thankfully saved on the compilation of the original trio's demos and first two singles, 78 'til 79: The Lost Album.
#4 — "Love Goes On!" (16 Lovers Lane, 1989)
This song may make a repeat appearance if I ever decide to do a list of the top five side one/track ones. Serving as the perfect overture for the album that follows, this song is also a perfect summation of what the Go-Betweens were to a lot of people: catchy and poppy beyond belief, but actual substance beneath all the appeal and production.
#3 — "Apology Accepted" (Liberty Belle and the Black Diamond Express, 1986)
"I used to say dumb things. I guess I still do." This song illustrates why Grant's songs were so resonating. He was able to take a very specific personal incident and make it universal. We've all been in a situation where our significant other has been mad at us and we're just kind of sitting there in limbo, wanting everything to be better. Awesome guitar layers, too.
#2 — "This Girl, Black Girl" (single B-side, 1983)
The b-side to the original version of "Man O' Sand To Girl O' Sea", this song was one of the first recordings that found the Tweens as a quartet. Besides the guitar sound on this song being absolutely awesome, the lyrics follow in the maritime theme of its A-side. I'm not entirely sure, but it seems like it's about a melancholy girl waiting for her sailor boyfriend to return from sea. It's just plain good.
#1 — "Cattle and Cane" (Before Hollywood, 1983)
What can I say? I like to stick to the classics. Quite possibly the Tweens signature tune, it again finds Grant taking a very personal subject and making it universal. I didn't even grow up on a farm, not to mention an Australian one, and I still feel like he's talking to me. Outstanding upper register bass playing by Grant on this one as well. When Robert comes in and says, "I recall the same" he nearly steals the show. A highlight within a highlight. One of the best songs ever.