Tags: go-betweens

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The sound of song

has much to say on the subject of singing:

I believe that singing is the key to long life, a good figure, a stable temperament, increased intelligence, new friends, super self-confidence, heightened sexual attractiveness, and a better sense of humor.

You can read the whole thing or listen to his voice.

The Key to a Long Life on Huffduffer

He may be overselling it but I think he’s onto something, as I noted last time I sang karaoke in Brighton. And it’s not just karaoke—singing in a church choir, playing Rock Band, performing in a cheesy covers band …none of these activities really have anything to do with virtuosity and everything to do with opening up the lungs and passing air over the vocal cords in an uninhibited way.

I used to sing all the time. Before I had a “real” job it was how I made ends meet, busking my way ‘round Europe.

These days when I reach for my bouzouki or mandolin, it’s usually to play some tunes—jigs and reels. But lately, with Grant McLennan on my mind, I’ve been rediscovering the songs of . As well as listening to their back catalogue, I’ve been recalling their songs I used to sing and I’ve started singing them again.

It feels good. Eno describes it thusly:

You use your lungs in a way that you probably don’t for the rest of your day, breathing deeply and openly. And there are psychological benefits, too: Singing aloud leaves you with a sense of levity and contentedness.

It feels especially good in combination with the plucking of strings …or as Shakespeare put it:

Is it not strange that sheeps’ guts should hale souls out of men’s bodies?

For no particular reason, I’ve been recording some of those Go-Betweens songs. They’re very rough. They’re very lo-fi. But playing and singing them …well, it just feels good.

Bye, bye pride

It was an evening flight out of Boston. The fasten seatbelt sign was switched off as the plane rose above the clouds and I was greeted with the sight of a gorgeous sunset to the west as I reached for my noise-cancelling headphones.

Normally I’d spend the time catching up on my podcasts but I felt like hearing some music. Specifically, I wanted to hear The Go-Betweens, having spent the day hanging out Chloe, fellow web developer and Go-Betweens fan. I listened to Bachelor Kisses as the last rays of sun streamed across the clouds and into the cabin.

Don’t believe what you’ve heard,
Faithful’s not a bad word.

Have you ever noticed the way that your emotional reactions can be heightened when you’re on an airplane? Like when you watch a sappy movie that would normally evoke a cynical sneer but you find yourself blinking away tears instead. Maybe it’s something to do with the amount of oxygen, or maybe it’s something to do with the cabin pressure. Or maybe it’s the feeling that your soul is trailing behind you, as William Gibson described in Pattern Recognition:

She knows, now, absolutely, hearing the white noise that is London, that Damien’s theory of jet lag is correct: that her mortal soul is leagues behind her, being reeled in on some ghostly umbilical down the vanished wake of the plane that brought her here, hundreds of thousands of feet above the Atlantic. Souls can’t move that quickly, and are left behind, and must be awaited, upon arrival, like lost luggage.

Admittedly, Bachelor Kisses is such a beautiful song that it could make me tear up at the best of times.

Exactly five years ago to the day I found out via text message that Grant McLellan had died. He will never write any more songs.

Maybe it was that thought that was bringing tears to my eyes. Maybe.

The waste (memory wastes)

I just got a text message from my friend Gerard in Ireland telling me that Grant McLennan just died.

We saw The Go-Betweens together in Dublin in 1989 supporting REM on the Green world tour — still one of the best gigs of my life. I never got the chance to see them since the reunion… guess I never will.

The world is a poorer place without the man who wrote and sang:

When the rain hit the roof with the sound of a finished kiss
like when a lip lifts from a lip
I took the wrong road round.