Tag Archives: Grant Mclennan

More sounds from the New Folk

Well, morning has passed me by but as always the day has been soundtracked by some new folk sounds… Here’s a snapshot of what has been entering my ears of late. Plenty here to get those Saturday morning feet a stomping! Enjoy and don’t forget to drop your LitRock suggestions into my previous post… I plan to post some of your suggestions real soon.



Little Lion Man – Mumford and Sons

This a sweet slab of new British folk from four young men with names that were begging for them to come together and make music. Marcus Mumford, Country Winston, Ben Lovett, and Ted Dwane marry gutsy, old-time folk with their love of bluegrass and country. And on Little Lion Man, they capture the live fire that they are becoming renowned for. let’s hope they hit these shores soon… Their debut album Sigh No More is out now.




Soul of a Man – Rambling Jack Elliott

Rambling Jack Elliott is one of the final links to the old American folk tradition. As Johnny Cash once said, nobody has covered more ground and made more friends and sung more songs than Rambling Jack. And in the tradition of the folk troubadour, he has just released a new album of Depression Era blues songs to pay homage to a handful of the songs that have fed him over the years. This track, originally penned by Blind Willie Johnson, is a song that haunts me every time I hear it. The lyric, I’m going to ask the question, answer if you can/ If anybody here can tell me, what is the soul of a man?  cuts straight through me and Rambling Jack has the life-weary voice to deleiver it with conviction.


steve kilbey

The Wrong Road – Steve Kilbey

Originally recorded for one of the tribute albums to the late great GW McLennan (although it sadly never made it on to the finished album), this is Kilbey at his stripped back best, capturing the elegance of McLennan’s lyric. This song is a major contender for the LitRock list that I was talking about recently too, with Grant superbly name-checking Dickens: 

Started out Oliver, ended up Fagin/ Don’t you worry, it’s my problem

It still hurts that there will be no new McLennan songs…


Filed under who listens to the radio?

Who Listens to the Radio: The Go-Bewteens

Here’s another of the articles I wrote for the Taking it to the Streets Exhibition that was held at the Museum of Brisbane. First up I posted my homage to The Saints – I’m Stranded and now…




 Before Hollywood – The Go-Betweens

Bursting onto the scene in 1977 as a Dylan infected, neo-pop band, The Go-Betweens were immediately at odds with Brisbane’s prevailing macho culture and the punk explosion created by hometown heroes, The Saints. Their lyrical genius, sweet harmonies, surprisingly intricate melodies and off kilter guitar sound stood them apart from anyone in the country at the time. Their sound had a melancholic intensity that had yet to be captured. By the time the band recorded their second album, ‘Before Hollywood’ (1983), they had relocated to England. They were critically recognised as an important band, but ‘Before Hollywood’ took things one-step further. For many, it was one song, ‘Cattle and Cane’ that made the breakthrough possible. The song is undeniably a classic, with its beautifully nostalgic lyric and elegant acoustic/electric arrangement. It is a song you can attach memories to, more like a painting than a story, and when it makes itself felt, it is never forgotten.

“I recall a bigger brighter world
A world of books
And silent times in thought
And then the railroad
The railroad takes him home
Through fields of cattle
Through fields of cane
From time to time
The waste memory-wastes
The waste memory-wastes”

This was the first sign of the real magic of The Go-Betweens. A magic that never faded throughout the recording of more than ten albums, a 12-year hiatus, several line up changes and too many tours to recall.


Sadly, since writing this article, Grant McLennan passed away on May 6, 2006.

Here is the poem I wrote for Grant after attending his funeral:


The Stillest Hour
 (for G.W. McLennan)

when the black car came
and took you away
the traffic lights
all turned red

suddenly the sound of a siren
a prolonged sound, the painful howl
of police or fire’s red engine
like the bellow of a mule in the night

it got closer and closer
over the streets and grey city buildings
it rose, like the complaining of cats
and like an animal, it died, wordlessly

leaving the gathering clouds black
and the day as well
not even a tear could make it rain
the salt of human hope

stirred by eulogies and the stories
that are now history
dry on our faces
shows us the air is troubled

this is the stillest hour
the quietest room
standing on the side of the road
with the cathedral looming

I don’t know whether to breathe
or sink …
now it’s you up there
lighting fires


Also if you need a reminder of just how magnificent Cattle and Cane is check these links out:

Film Clip: http://www.elfreebo.com/?module=View&id=ZCbyByY-A6w

Live on Rock Arena 1987: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ay-qCCwKU4U


Filed under who listens to the radio?