Love Goes On
Last Thoughts on Grant McLennan

Grant McLennan died in his sleep on Saturday night at his home in Brisbane, he was 48.

For so long I felt lucky to be sharing a city with Grant. His music has mattered deeply, in many profound ways. I realise now he was important to me as a symbol of creative ambition realised. I listened to and read all of his lines, and read between them too – be true to your own vision was his imagined advice.

Grant McLennan performing at Inkahoots’ 10th birthday celebration on the 14.7.2000. Photo Kevin Phillips

I was too young to be there from the beginning, but I haven’t missed a gig or an album since tuning in – solo, side project, or Go-Betweens. Highlights are many: his weeknight residencies at Rics; the reunion gig at the Zoo when the only sensible recourse to the absurd Brisbane heat and humidity was to disrobe; convincing a Parisian record store to hand over their unpackaged pre-release copy of Friends of Rachel Worth so I could listen to it wandering through the Musee d’Orsay; a bizarre early encounter, discussing Dylan’s new record with Grant for ages without realising one lens from my sunglasses had fallen out and I must have looked like an utter dickhead; on a road trip through North Queensland cane country during the burn off with his songs melting into the landscape; at a London gig meeting fans who had travelled from accross Europe; the Tivoli gig filmed for the Striped Sunlight Sound dvd; his last gig with the Go-Betweens at the Sydney Festival; whenever we met, always hassling him to design his record covers, and him always politely agreeing to think about it...

He was undoubtedly one of the great Australian artists of the modern period. And one of the most artistically sensitive and subtle pop songwriters full stop. Along with Ed Kuepper and Grant’s friend and songwriting partner Robert Forster he was the single greatest source of pride in my hometown. Rarely his sentimentality would over-ripen a song, but mostly he could stun you with crystallised buried truth, deeper and more direct than nostalgia. He was a romantic in all the best senses of the word. And he could rock and he could roll with equal conviction.

Grant played an incredible gig at Inkahoots’ tenth birthday bash in 2000. It still astounds me that it was practical to have my second choice of performer (Grant wouldn't have begrudged Dylan as the first) for this celebration, regardless of availability, geography etc. Now he’s gone and I just wish I'd told him what he meant to me when I had the chance.

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The people next door got their problems
They got things they can’t name
I know a thing about lovers
Lovers don’t feel any shame
Late at night with the lights down low
The candle burns to the end
I know a thing about darkness
Darkness ain't my friend

Love goes on anyway!
Love goes on anyway!

Jason Grant 8.05.06