Australia’s finest singer-songwriter, Grant
McLennan of The Go Betweens, died on Saturday.

McLennan’s
music is elegant and precise. “As a musician and songwriter, he was articulate,
thoughtful, emotional and poetic,” his former colleague Amanda Brown said
yesterday. “His songs are distinguished by beautiful, yearning melodies and
lyrics which were literate and free from cliché.”

She spoke
of her relationship with McLennan: “Grant and I were lovers and friends,
sharing a world of music, travelling, books, film and art. We influenced each
other in a mutually profound and creatively vibrant way, and we lived intensely
and happily together for several years.”

And we caught a glimpse of that
world when Brown offered this magnificent analysis of
McLennan’s music: “Grant’s songs captured an Australia that was influenced by
his love for contemporary American writers like Cormac Macarthy, Richard Ford
and Raymond Carver and songwriters such as Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and
Patti Smith. These writers inform his images of Australia, which range from the landscapes tinged
with nostalgia and loss (Cattle and Cane and Bye Bye Pride), suburban life
(Streets of Your Town), epic narratives (The Wrong Road, Black Mule) and, of
course, exquisite love songs like Quiet Heart, Stones for You, and Bachelor
Kisses.”

Peter Fray

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