Before you read any further, I implore that if you have never heard Australia’s beloved—and woefully overlooked—band The Go-Betweens, do it now. Their 1988 masterpiece 16 Lover’s Lane, to be specific. Streets of Your Town, to be even more specific. They’re two of the finest pop albums and singles, respectively, I’ve ever heard. I’ve always loved the band, formed by Robert Forster and Grant McLennan in Brisbane in their high school days, and like all great pop songwriting parings from Lennon & McCartney to Difford & Tillbrook, theirs is a story of talent, tension, and ultimately love and friendship. This is a wonderful read for fans of the band (I’m not sure there’s enough here for the casual reader to latch on to, but that’s not for me to assume), spanning decades in the life, disintegration, and rebirth of the band. There were plenty of rough—very rough—patches within the band I knew nothing about and the stories behind some of the band’s best work were fascinating, along with the cast of characters who passed through the band’s orbit from Edwyn Collins to Cate Blanchett and Sleater Kinney. More interesting, yet ultimately heartbreaking, was the slow self-destruction of Grant, who died of a heart attack just before a huge dinner party he was throwing in 2006. Though I’m glad I have a more thorough understanding of what Grant was going through since his death was so shocking and sudden to me when it happened, it makes it no easier to read. He was one of the great unsung songwriters of his generation and one of my idols and I’m grateful to Robert to have penned such a loving, honest, warts and all memoir and tribute to a band and songwriter I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life.
Grant & I available now.