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My Soundtrack: Robert Forster

The former Go-Between takes time out from listening to AM radio and discovers some B-Side gold.

Robert Forster

The former Go-Between takes time out from listening to AM radio and discovers some B-Side gold.

Related: Robert Forster Songs To Play Reviewed

All words below by Robert Forster.

The Song That Reminds Me of Growing Up

Creedence Clearwater Revival “Have You Ever Seen the Rain”, 1970
“I grew up in Brisbane, with no older sibling with a record collection, and my parents weren’t all that interested in music. When I was 11 or 12, only listening to AM radio, I was captivated by Creedence. It was just John Fogerty’s voice. He sounded like no-one else at that time, everyone else was very sweet and chirpy, and Fogerty sounded very rough. It’s almost their most folk-rocky number – there’s still bass and drums, but there’s an acoustic strum that just melted me. Fogerty’s voice, the funkiness of the group, they were very real for Top 40.”

The Song People Wouldn’t Expect Me To Like

Passenger “Let Her Go”, 2012
“Big pop song. His voice is quite irritating, and the production is a little bit wet. But beneath it is a great song. Someone even vaguely hip could cover that, and everyone would go, ‘Wow, that’s a good song.’ But anyone with an inch of hipness just hated it when it came out.”

The Song I Play Air Guitar To

Television “Venus De Milo”, 1977
“Grant [McLennan] and I would play air guitar to this. In 1978 we lived in a house and would play Marquee Moon . . . ‘Venus De Milo’ is probably close to my favourite ever recording. It’s beautiful. The guitars, you just get lost in them. And that solo, it’s a perfect guitar solo. Tom Verlaine’s guitar tone, it’s very floaty and he’s just picking these notes. Instead of ‘diddle-diddle-diddle’, like every other guitarist in a mainstream American group, especially in the Seventies, trying to play faster than the band, Verlaine plays slower, and so the guitar solo dreams and skips. I would stand there on the couch and just be air guitaring to Tom Verlaine. Even now, my children catch me. You know, I only have to hear anything off Marquee Moon, but especially ‘Venus De Milo’.”

The Song That Cheers Me Up

The Kinks “Waterloo Sunset”, 1967
“I love listening to Ray Davies’ vocal, it’s like he’s just throwing it away, and it’s just an amazing melody. It’s got a lot – that almost power chord bit, and then that almost Beach Boys bit, and that verse. Those three chords that’ve been around for a million years, and Ray manages to put a new melody over it. The lyric is perfect. I hear that on the radio, and it cheers me up because it is the perfect pop song. I don’t think Lennon and McCartney ever wrote a better pop song than that. ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’, ‘Ticket to Ride’, do they touch ‘Waterloo Sunset’? It’s just seamless.”

The Song I Want Played At My Funeral

Sarah Blasko “We Won’t Run”, 2009
“I’m DJing at my funeral. It’s going to come as a surprise to the mourners. They’ll come out of the church, and they’ll go to the marquee, and I’ll be on stage – with those headphones that DJs have around their necks, and they’ll see me on a platform. I’ll be playing Sarah Blasko’s ‘We Won’t Run’ as they come in. I might even be in trainers and some sort of plastic, groovy mac. It’ll be like, ‘He’s DJing!’ I’m blasting out Blasko – she might even be there. That could be a shock for her.”

The Song That Gets Me On the Dancefloor

James Brown “Sex Machine”, 1970
“I’ve never been a clubber. But if I was going to be on the dancefloor, it’d be James Brown, Sex Machine, I love that. In Glasgow, in the Eighties, there was a cult around that song, and I was part of that cult. I like that beat.”

The Song I’m Most Proud Of

The Go-Betweens “Darlinghurst Nights”, 2005
“It’s all about Darlinghurst, 1984. The Go-Betweens spent a lot of time around there then, we’d come back from England, and then I wrote this song about that in 2004. I loved writing the lyric, and I could just get all these people in – Frank Brunetti, who used to be in Died Pretty, and was a music journalist on RAM; Clinton Walker is in it. It’s a song that really no-one else could have written but me – for better or worse. It’s a song when I play it, I just go into it and I know that in five minutes, everyone’s just gonna be very happy in the audience.”

The Song I Wish I Wrote

Simon and Garfunkel “Bridge Over Troubled Water”, 1970
“It’s one of the great song titles of all time. Imagine walking into a practice room and you say to your band, ‘I’ve got a new song’, and then someone says, ‘What is it?’ And you go, ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’. People would just go, [slaps table] ‘That’s amazing!’ Even before you play a note. I’d just be happy to come up with that song title. I love the song because it’s huge, and it just feels natural and real. It never for a second feels bombastic to me. I love the position that the person singing the song has: it’s ‘I’m the helper’, ‘I’m the rescuer’ – ultra romantic. Great song. I’d love to have written something like that.”

The Song I Want To Cover

Bad//Dreems “My Only Friend”, 2014
“It’s an incredible song. Neil Young or Noel Gallagher would just be on their knees to this song. My son turned me onto this – it originally came out as a B-Side. He had the single and he flipped the record over and just said, ‘Listen to this.’ And the B-Side killed the A-Side. It’s like an Australian classic.”