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Tuesday 5 November 2019

Lee Remick

I picked up Robert Forster's autobiography Grant And I, his memoir of his life, his time as one of the two songwriters and frontmen in The Go- Betweens and friendship with the other one, Grant McLennan (who died at the early age of forty eight in 2006). Forster is a witty, reflective and very literate writer and he describes the birth of the group and their subsequent trials and tribulations- critically lauded albums but very few sales- in a breezy but detailed manner. The 1980s and it's insistence on big studios, big producers and drum machines doesn't come out of it well, several albums full of fine songs being scuppered. His writes vivid portraits of London in the mid 80s and of the music and social scenes in several Australian cities.The chapter at the end of the first half where he deals with the band's breakup is open and honest about his and Grant's reasons and mistakes (especially when telling Lindy and Amanda, the other band members, one of whom was living with and in a  relationship with McLennan who then regrets this and pays for it for some time afterwards).

Early on in the band's history Robert writes a song called Lee Remick, a tribute to the American star of Days Of Wine And Roses, The Omen and Anatomy Of A Murder, and it's clear this song is a breakthrough for him, a love song written by someone who at that point hadn't been in love, a love song for someone he doesn't know, his feelings projected onto a film star. The music, folky post punk crossed with 60s bubblegum, is stripped back, taut and amateurish and all the better for it. It's clearly indebted to Jonathan Richman and The Monkees. The Go- Betweens pressed up 700 copies on 7" released by Australian label Able in 1978, which are worth a small fortune now. The subject of the song, Lee Remick, owned three copies of the single, one sent to her by Forster in 1979, another he gave to her in 1988 and a third bought by the production team when she appeared on an Australian chatshow.

Lee Remick

The book cost me a fiver in the Waterstones sale, five pounds well spent. You can barely get a pint for a fiver in some parts of town now.

Then I got thinking about songs where the title of the song is the name of a famous person. Sadly The Wedding Present's George Best album doesn't count as it's an album not a song and the boy Gedge didn't include the word William in the title of his song Shatner. But I've got a couple of others which I'll put up over the next few days.


Michael Doherty said...


Michael Doherty said...

As slight cheat but a superb tune. https://youtu.be/WJpBlfJLbRM

Swiss Adam said...

Thanks Michael- the first one had crossed my mind.

The Adverse Camper said...

Unrest had a nice line in songs named after people
Cath Caroll
Winona Ryder
apparently thats a rip off, of this

Brian said...

Seeing Robert on Saturday! In a weird coincidence, I saw a very young Lee Remick in A Face in the Crowd last Saturday.

Rol said...

There are hundreds once you start digging into it, although Lee does pretty well considering she also had a song named after her by Hefner.

This has always been one of my favourite Go-Betweens songs, and I'm pretty sure I first discovered it through the blogosphere.

Swiss Adam said...

Yep, once I started I remembered and then found loads of them.