By Steve Weinstein
By Bryan Bierman
By Lindsey Rhoades
By Chaz Kangas
By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Jena Ardell
By Jesse Sendejas Jr.
By Katherine Turman
"One of the last real romantic bohemians. No watch, wallet, or drivers licence," recalled one of a thousand bereaved on the band's message board. McLennan reportedly went through a heroin phase and had trouble sustaining relationships with women; his melodic grace concealed a dark thematic undertow. His father, a doctor, died of cancer at 38, when Grant was just four: "You've lost your voice/You let it go," he literally moaned on "Dusty in Here" 20 years later. But the songwriter was famously modest, generous, polite, courtly. There seems no reason to attribute his loss to anything more esoteric than cruel fate.
McLennan is survived by his girlfriend, his mother, a stepfather he was close to, two siblings, and an adult son. But just as painfully, he is survived by Robert Forster, his Go-Betweens partner since 1977, who played and worked with him even when they lived oceans apart with band kaput. They didn't compose together, and both recorded notable solo albumsin the early '90s, McLennan's output was obsessive, unstoppable. But they were stronger in tandem; they complemented each other's tone, with McLennan's graver and sweeter. And even as naive new wavers, both conveyed a maturityan adult contemporaneityall the stranger for its origins in supposedly uncouth Oz. In retrospect, maybe it was too mature for its intended audience at the time.
Admittedly, McLennan's pick hit came early, in 1982: "Cattle and Cane," about childhood in the outback, shows up on many greatest-songs-of-all-time lists, including U2's. But now that he's lost his voice, remember 2005's "Finding You": "What would you do if you turned around/And saw me beside you/Not in a dream but in a song?" Or 2000's "The Clock": "But then the clock turns/And it's now/And it's you-ou-ou-ou-ou-ou."