How NOT to write about music – 70. Robert Forster


I know I have shared this once already, but it makes me so happy.

This is how I remember Brisbane. This is how I remember The Gap. Such beauty, such greenery, trees crowding round your massive lawns. Sheltering from the summer heat, dreaming of the spring rain, dreaming of ice, cowering from the morning’s heat. Sleeping naked in bed but still tossing and turning unable to rest. Not wilderness as such but next to any suburban town you care name in Southern England, total wilderness. The jungle is coming right up to your door. Thunder and lightning electrical storms that you watch from your decks for hour upon hour, stopping only for another tinny. So beautiful, so gorgeous outside – go on holiday for four weeks and you end up staying for seven years with an irretrievably broken-down marriage and three gorgeous kids as your heritage. Dreaming of under-show house gigs, illicit parties, wide empty turning roads that buses bomb down with no thought for their passengers they just want to be in out of the heat. On every hillside more greenery, more trees. Snakes squirming across roads and rearing up in your back garden. Massive trampolines made invisible by mega gardens. The kids getting up before you on a Sunday morning just so they can hurl paper planes off the deck and then chase down the roadside hill after them. Mowing endlessly. The grass is always a disgrace. Let me out. Let me back. Let me out. Let me back in. Please.

How NOT to write about music – 55. Robert Forster


I cannot resist this.

I have never knowingly listened to a Robert Forster solo record before – sorry, Robert. I am too entangled with The Go-Betweens for that.

NOTE: don’t mention the fact the video reminds me of my former gardens in The Gap, a few long streets away from Robert himself lives.

NOTE TO SELF: do not mention the fact Robert once stood on Charlotte’s foot in the fruit and veg section of Woolworth’s, or our very convivial meeting down Kelvin Grove market, or watching him recount songwriting skills to QUT students on an otherwise mundane weekday afternoon, or endless weeks spent inside cowering from the sun, the inferno.

NOTE TO SELF, NOTE TO SELF: do not mention ‘Spring Rain’, the way I could only understand that song after I’d been living in Brisbane for a couple of years. Do not mention the heat. Do not mention the heat, the decaying plastic playgrounds and garages full of spiders.

NOTE TO SELF: do not mention The Velvet Underground, the two-note piano refrain, the towering benign shadow Forster casts over The Music I Love, the wicked little asides of synth and silence and madness, the way he brings it all back down, the focus we all have on our ‘lawns’, the ‘jungle’, the guitars, the forest, the green, the languor, the semi-retirement, the warping and bending of guitar notes enough to unsettle, the brilliant brutal simplicity of it all. Do not mention the fact I have now spent just over 52 minutes listening to a 2.46 minute song over and over.

NOTE: I really had no intention of writing about Mr Forster as he reaches yet another peak of artistic creativity. Indeed, I had no intention of listening to Mr Forster (see above). Now I think about it, that must be untrue – my insistence I have never knowingly listened to one of his solo records. (I got in a 3am Facebook argument with Courtney Love and Lou Barlow – among others – a few months back, when I started insisting I have no recollection of seeing Courtney’s band play live. I know I must have seen them. I just cannot recall seeing them.)

NOT TO SELF, BUT TO ALL OF YOU: splurgy-troth brilliance. Place on repeat, let the lyrics and the pronunciation and the guitars soak through you 20 times, the insistent two-note piano, and then start playing it for real. For real, man. For real. I fucking wish fucking YouTube didn’t keep taking me through to Sharon Van fucking Etten at the song’s end however. Do YOU remember the winter at all?

Look at the way the man dances with his mower! Look at him.

We all do that, in The Gap. It’s a weekly ritual, our pastime. Like First Dog on the Moon made corporeal flesh. A suburban death twitch.