(8 years ago to the day!!)


On many an occasion in this rundown, I’ve mentioned that I had major problems narrowing down which particular song should be chosen for a band. I reckon the biggest dilemma came with The Go-Betweens. How can I possibly ignore the merits of the genius, majesty and sheer beauty of Cattle and Cane – the track that is probably their best-known and best-loved song? Not to mention the gorgeous vocal delivery of the much-missed Grant McLennan.

The answer is that the follow-up single just means an awful lot more to me.

It was at the age of 20 that I finally moved out from underneath my parents’ protection and branched out to a place of my own. It was a student residency flat on campus in Glasgow City Centre. It was a two-bedroom job, complete with kitchen, toilet and shower. I had the single room, while my two flatmates shared a larger space. The rent for each of us was £510 – for a full year including the summer months.

I had a reasonable record collection, but one of my other flatmates had a collection that I reckon was probably only second to that of John Peel (for instance, he had every single that had come out on Postcard Records). It was a time when my musical tastes broadened more than ever before, thanks to hearing some old stuff for the first time, but also on account of new and emerging bands throughout the early and mid 80s. This was where I first learned about, among others, The Go-Betweens.

The location of the flat was incredible, a mere stone’s throw from the student union where we seemed to spend most of our free time. We’d spend hours every weekend getting ready to go out, taking turns to play some of our favourite songs, often dissecting the lyrics and melodies in a way that seemed very important and meaningful.

Every Friday and Saturday, the set-lists for going out would change, but there was one single from October 1983 that always seemed to get played – as indeed was the b-side:-

mp3 : The Go-Betweens – Man O’ Sand To Girl O’ Sea
mp3 : The Go-Betweens – This Girl, Black Girl

Robert Forster’s manic delivery of the line ‘I feel so sure about our love I’ve wrote a song about us breaking up’ is one of the finest moments in pop history. As is the chorus that isn’t a chorus – ‘I want you baaaaaack.’ And don’t get me started in the great backing vocals.

There’s also a little footnote to this particular single that also helped it clinch selection ahead of Cattle and Cane.

This was another 7” which was ‘lost’ in Edinburgh all those years ago, although I did still have copies of the songs on a double compilation LP called 1978-1990. However, by the early part of this century, it was all CDs or digital and I just couldn’t get my hands on a copy of the b-side.

But….there came a day when, after much humming and hawing, I plucked up the courage to ask a bloke called Colin who at the time had a great blog called Let’s Kiss And Make Up that had previously featured The Go-Betweens if he could post an mp3 of This Girl, Black Girl. He willingly obliged.

Colin also later replied to other e-mails from me in which I asked for advice in setting up my own blog – and without fail he was always courteous, charming, witty and hugely supportive, especially in the very early days when I was unsure of what I was doing and terrified that I was out of my depth, making a fool of myself and wasting my time.

So if there’s a song from this rundown that I’d like to dedicate to anyone, then its this particular track.

Thanks comrade. I’m proud to call you a mate.  Real proud.


How uncanny is it that, having more than six months ago set out to look back at this old series that the entry for The Go-Betweens would happen to fall just one day after the 10th anniversary of the sad and untimely passing of Grant McLennan……


3 thoughts on “A LAZY STROLL DOWN MEMORY LANE : 45 45s AT 45 (13)

  1. this single, still carefully played from time to time, is the (underlined) finest moment of many fine Go-Betweens moments. also the flip is magnificent!

  2. My first gig ever was Aztec Camera, support act the Go Betweens. They were circa Spring Hill Fair: Five Words, Draining the Pool for You, Batchelor Kisses. It’s fair to say my first experience of a support band was extremely favourable. I have been a fan ever since and saw them again years later at the Renfrew Ferry when they had much more great material under their belts. They were great again in the intimate venue full of true believers. A great band and truly great songwriters. RIP Grant. My own fave is Cattle and Cane which I read about a lot before I belatedly heard although they may have played it at the Aztec Camera gig. It took me a while to get the song but it is unique and has endured with me. I find it bewitching.

  3. Robert Forster posted this the other day…
    “May 6, 2016. Ten years ago today Grant McLennan of The Go-Betweens passed away. A sad anniversary to mark, but necessary in so many ways, not the least because he was a great singer-songwriter and a wonderful friend. I think of him often; he is not someone who has faded – remaining close to me as he always will be, in memory and music. We knew each other for just over thirty years – for seventeen of them we were in a band, for the remainder of the time the friendship was just as important and central to us. Grant and I did a lot of talking together. Pitching ideas, making plans, swapping enthusiasms we had, and laughing. We were a force together. The sting to this day shall be strong as he died in Brisbane, The Go-Betweens were a Brisbane band, and today I shall be out in the city and tonight will sleep in it. Thinking of Grant. Warm greetings to all who read this, and have Grant firmly in their lives too. Hold on.
    Fond Regards. Robert.”

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