Friday, 3 May 2013

The songs of Grant McLennan

I’m going to pretend I live in a world where Grant McLennan isn’t famous and try to describe his songs to you.

Grant McLennan wrote pop songs like Going Blind and Easy Come Easy Go that, if you were to hear them on daytime radio, would sound right next to I Want To Hold Your Hand and 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover and Morning Train (Nine to Five).

You’d hear them on the radio as you got ready for work or when you were driving to escape the city. They would never sound old. If you didn't hear his pop songs for a few months, the next time you did they’d sound as fresh and bright and jubilant as church bells ringing on Liberation Day.

If I had to describe to you what people mean when they write about love, I’d point you to side 2 of Liberty Belle and the Black Diamond Express. In particular, I’d play you the songs that bookend that peerless run of songs: In The Core Of A Flame and Apology Accepted.

You’d start by feeling the rush of lust and desire that is passion’s full fire: “If the devil had seen your dress/He would've changed his name/Put down his fork and moved up above/Why burn in hell when you burn for love?” And then you’d learn what love really means by measuring the weight of its loss in Apology Accepted. Better songs may have been written, but when I'm listening to the uncompromising emotion of Apology Accepted I can’t call any of them to mind.

And if someone ever told me that they understood all of mankind’s ways, that they had decoded human intelligence and knew the limits of our ingenuity, then I would sit them in St Paul’s Cathedral in London and play them Cattle and Cane.

I live in a world where Grant McLennan is dead but his songs are alive. Three of my friends are playing his songs live on Sunday. We will be reminded, again, what fantastic songs they are and hear them anew.

Before then, let's listen to Easy Come Easy Go from the Botany sessions, recorded in Grant's home, October 1989.

No comments:

Post a Comment