Streets Of Your Town
Today we’re listening to “Streets Of Your Town” by The Go-Betweens
In the late 80s, Americans were obsessed with everything Australian. Crocodile Dundee at the movies, Energizer battery commercials with Mark Jackson, and…whatever Yahoo Serious was.
It was the same story on the air as well, with Midnight Oil, INXS, The Church, and other bands riding high on the charts. The Go-Betweens were there too, but never quite hit the heights stateside the others managed.
As they prepared to go into the studio to record their sixth record—1988’s 16 Lovers Lane—McLennan surprised the band with “Streets Of Your Town,” a song he’d written “in about 10 minutes” with violinist/multi-instrumentalist (and then girlfriend) Amanda Brown. By all accounts, this was the first and only time McLennan had brought a track to the studio without Foster hearing it first.
In a 2018 interview, Foster recalled that first listen:
“The fact that I hadn’t heard the song, it did miff me … Every other song from every other album that we’d done before that, and every album that we did after, I knew all the songs that Grant had. This was the one song that I didn’t. But a week later it was fine. That was the thing with Grant and I, we didn’t yell and scream at each other. There’s things that I did to him that he must have just had to swallow, too.”
It didn’t take long for him and the other band members to warm up to the track, though- they knew they had something special on their hands.
“It was so hooky! It was such a standout. And to see the two of them play that together, and Amanda doing that backing vocal ‘shine’, you know, she composed that, and it’s a hook.”
~Drummer Lindy Morrison
It wasn’t a hit here in America-but it did chart elsewhere. And 35 years later, it holds up much better than some of the songs that outperformed it.
And Yahoo Serious.
Coda: Speaking of Australian artists, while appearing on the Song Exploder podcast Courtney Barnett noted that her song “Depreston” was inspired by trying to learn “Streets Of Your Town.”
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The best-known moment of 16 Lovers Lane strikes the listener as a melding of McLennan’s and Forster’s styles. ‘Streets Of Your Town’, receiving heavy radio play in the US and UK and still, somehow, not furnishing The Go-Betweens with an actual hit, is as good an indie-pop song as the the 1980s ever produced. Full of small-town drama, both fascinated and bored with the low-key life of suburbia, McLennan’s downcast, almost muttered observations are beautifully set off against Amanda Brown’s bright, cooing backing vocals.
Click here to read the rest of this comparison of 16 Lovers Lane with Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours.
“Streets Of Your Town” by The Go-Betweens| 16 Lovers lane, 1988
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