Grant and I: Inside and Outside The Go-Betweens
Rough Trade Books of the Year 2017 No: 3
Grant and I: Inside and Outside The Go-Betweens is an extraordinary portrait of an intense, creative, sometimes fraught friendship between Robert Forster and Grant McLennan that represented a genuine meeting of artistic minds.
The 1980s songwriting partnership of McLennan / Forster was a little like an Australian Lennon / McCartney. The pair wrote all the band’s distinctively original material and, like their more famous counterparts, shared the credits and alternated on lead vocals; both also played guitar. They formed The Go-Betweens in 1977, in possibly the quirkiest of all rock-band beginnings, before disbanding in 1989. A second incarnation, with Robert and Grant the constant in both lineups, endured from 2000 to 2006, the year of Grant’s premature death. Grant and I is an extraordinary portrait of an intense, creative, sometimes fraught friendship that represented a genuine meeting of artistic minds. Robert and Grant were arts undergraduates at university in the seventies, where they bonded through a shared passion for literature and film. (Their band name was taken from L.P. Hartley’s novel of the same name, and much of their material was inspired by other cultural works.) In Grant and I, the reader is given a front-row seat at the sessions that produced an incredibly prolific and diverse song catalogue, and is also taken backstage to the sometimes troubled rise and fall of the band itself. The band released nine studio albums, including their best known, 16 Lovers Lane (1988), and three live albums. Just as The Go-Betweens were like no other music group, so this book is like no other music memoir. It is wise and witty, poignant, insightful, self-deprecating and knowledgeable. Robert Forster is as natural a storyteller and prose writer as he is a songwriter.