Robert Forster (Go-Betweens) tells us what he’s listening to, watching & reading while stuck at home
We’ve been asking artists what’s occupying their time while staying indoors and here's one from Go-Betweens co-founder Robert Forster, including what music he's been listening to (including Big Thief, Bowie and the new Bob Dylan single), plus what books he's reading and the movies and television he's been watching. Check out his Quarantine List, complete with commentary, below.
As for how he's dealing with all this, in a March 22 note to fans, Forster wrote, "Without wishing to be flippant, the changes to life brought on by the Virus affects me less than many of you. You could say I have been living in self-isolation since 1978. Being a singer-songwriter in a band or solo - my working life has been located at home, locked rehearsal rooms, dark recording studios, tour buses, quiet hotel rooms. So what i have before me over the next six months or so is not radically different to what I have always done. It shall just be a little quieter as I work on my novel (second draft almost done) and try to write songs for my next album - working title for today, it will change mid-week - 'Quick Changes'."
Robert released the terrific Inferno last year, and the second volume of the G Stands for Go-Betweens retrospective box set series came out in 2019 as well. Meanwhile, his first two solo albums -- 1990's Danger in the Past and 1993's Calling from a Country Phone -- were just reissued and newly remastered at Abbey Road studios. His 2017 memoir Grant & I is also highly recommended.
ROBERT FORSTER - WHAT I'VE BEEN LISTENING TO, READING AND WATCHING WHILE STUCK AT HOME
Big Thief - Two Hands
An adventurous melodic rock record. The band in a room approach, done with thought and great care. For those who dig mid-seventies Neil Young, a yearning songwriter with a band who can mind-read the singer, this could be for you.
Michael Pollan - How To Change Your Mind - The New Science of Psychedelics
Terminal cancer patients taking controlled trips to help them find peace with coming death. A history of psychedelics and Medicine (with some testing by the author) - from its near extinction in the late sixties, to its welcome current day revival. Fascinating and well written.
Television series. High body count and jokey dialogue -- the modern mix. Entertains in long stretches, but when does constant plot unpredictability become predictable? And when would plot predictably become unpredictable? Something to ponder when stuck at home. [Season 3 starts April 12 - Ed]
Tommy James - "Draggin The Line"
This is from 1971 when bubblegum pop was epic and beautiful. The lyrics are gibberish, the melody is beyond words. Tommy James is a genius.
Sharon Olds - Arias
Her new book of poems. Fireworks poetry. Sexton/Plath/Rich/Olds. Tougher and more tender than most anything in rock and roll.
Side 2 of The Rise And Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders Of Mars
A six song run beginning with "Lady Stardust" and ending with "Rock’n’Roll Suicide." Magic songwriting, magic impact. I listen to this urging myself to be bold in my songwriting.
Hilary Mantel - The Mirror & The Light
Didn’t Hilary time this well. A 900 page novel, the final book of her Cromwell trilogy, published in early March with many of us facing months indoors. I’m taking it slow, currently at page 92. Monster writing that you have to take slow.
Bob Dylan - "Murder Most Foul"
I’ll skip the song and its meaning to note this. Having read some of the media commentary -- why do critics assume Dylan released it in response to COVID-19 or Trump or the state of the world? Why does there have to be a big reason? Why hump more on the guy’s shoulders?. It also assumes Dylan has no family or friends or manager - one of whom might just have said to him one day - Why don’t you put this out?
The Blue Nile - "The Downtown Lights"
This came out in the Eighties and was exactly the kind of music I was suspicious of. Very well crafted electronic pop by good looking musos who probably thought the one great group from Punk was The Police. A friend turned me onto this recently and it is good. I can appreciate it now. I’ve moved on.
Camp Crip documentary on Netflix
We watched this last night. It’s a moving and informative story of a hippie run camp in upstate New York in the early seventies for teenagers with disabilities; the freedom and companionship the kids feet there are the seeds that will grow over the coming decades into a human rights movement. Wheelchair access. Disabled toilets. Familiar facilities, yet many of us don’t know their origins in law or life, now we do. An incredible film. Just out.