Four Songs by The Go-Betweens
Let me tell you about The Go-Betweens. They’ve been one of my favorite bands for the past ten years, though I stopped listening to them for a while after Grant McLennan died. If you know me you know I organize my music by season, and because I run on nostalgia, I like to add the season I was listening to ten years ago in with my current season’s playlist because I’m a masochist who craves the emotional jolt. I started listening to the Go-Betweens ten years ago this past summer when I received the song Too Much of One Thing on a mix from a mix-CD club I was invited into (egregious brag). I really got into the Go-Betweens the following summer, when I found one of their tracks at random in some unprotected directory on the web looking for some information on a series of tracks by The Stranglers. By THAT following summer when I decided to drop out of school for a little while, they were My Favorite Band, and I was fortunate enough to catch them on their reunion tour at Brooklyn’s Southpaw, which, like Grant McLennan, isn’t in our world anymore. So I want to share some of my favorite songs with ya’ll that I listened to then and am listening to now.
This track off of “Send Me a Lullaby”, my favorite Go-Betweens album, was the one I found that summer, and the one that started it all. I’d only known them for their softer, more sensitive side, so it was a surprise to me that they could rock. I was thrilled that a lot of their earlier stuff sounded much this way. It could basically be Gang of Four, but good.
My favorite song off of Before Hollywood, my second-favorite Go-Betweens album. I wasn’t a fan at first, but the chorus got me hooked, and I would listen to it on repeat trying to figure out why I loved it so much while walking through the engineering quad during my second year at UMass (are you choosing a college? Don’t choose one based on the title of a Pixies song).
Another one off of Send Me A Lullaby. I always found it kind of a slog, but then I never really paid attention to the mood, and now it’s one of my favorite songs of this fall. This is a distinctly weird song. I can’t get over the piano, the abbreviated delivery of the lyrics or the strange pacing. The music video reminds me a little of the one for Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart”, maybe because Robert Forster (this one, not that one) looks a little like Stephen Morris.
Off of Spring Hill Fair. I’ve been familiar with this song for about a decade, but it only caught me now. The lyrics are Pure Forster: they seem to only tell part of a story, like it assumes you have some context. There’s also a Robert Smith quality to Forster’s voice here. I don’t know what the lyrics are about, but judging by my deeply personal reaction I’m going to have to assume that this song is about me. Aren’t they all?