Grant and I is the story of the friendship and collaboration of Grant McLennan and Robert Forster, who gave Australia The Go-Betweens, one of our best and most influential bands.
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 Brisbane 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 Queensland uni 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 this book 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.
A cult band in the eighties, The Go-Betweens were described at the time by a critic for New York's Village Voice as having 'the greatest songwriting partnership working today'. Jonathan Franzen is a fan, and in 2001 their song 'Cattle and Cane' was selected by the Australasian Performing Right Association as one of the top thirty Australian songs of all time. 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 Australian 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, and Grant and I is an unforgettable ride.