Song of the Week – Cattle and Cane, The Go-Betweens


Today’s song of the week is “Cattle and Cane” by the Australian group, The Go-Betweens.

The song lyrics were written by Grant McLennan about the loss of his father to a heart attack when Grant was just 4 years old, and his family’s subsequent return home to a rural Queensland Australian farm from his English birthplace.

The stutter step rhythm (11/4 time?) and acoustic guitars meld perfectly with the somber lyrics and beautifully understated vocal.

I recall a schoolboy coming home
Through fields of cane
To a house of tin and timber
And in the sky
A rain of falling cinders
From time to time
The waste memory-wastes

I recall a boy in bigger pants
Like everyone
Just waiting for a chance
His father’s watch
He left it in the showers
From time to time
The waste memory-wastes
And the waste, memory-wastes

I recall a bigger brighter world
A world of books
And silent times in thought
And then the railroad
The railroad takes him home
Through fields of cattle
Through fields of cane
From time to time
The waste memory-wastes
And the waste memory-wastes

I recall a saying
A reply
A pain once had
From time down to mine
That time was bad
Until I knew where I was
Alone and (so) far from home

Further, longer, higher, older

This performance is in perfect balance. The wordless backup vocals after the second verse, the bass melody in the break and the spoken word verse all effectively complement the song’s melancholy.

Sadly, like his father, McLennan suffered an untimely death by heart attack at the young age of 48 in 2006.

That hits a little too close to home for me.

Enjoy… until next week.

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