The quintessential Australian rock group The Go-Betweens have made a strong showing so far in this music library project. Today’s song Bye Bye Pride was the fourth song released from their 1987 record Tallulah. This song failed to chart in Australia or in the UK where the band resided, but Bye Bye Pride is now regarded by followers as one of the band’s most endearing songs. What really seems to resonate about The Go-Betweens is the aesthetic of their music and perhaps no better is that encapsulated than here.
Bye Bye Pride was written and sung by the band’s co-founder Grant McLennan. McLennan was a keen literature student and aspiring film-maker and had to be pressured by his teenage friend Robert Forster into forming a band with him. Forster was always the wanna be musician, but McLennan went on to become the band’s craftsman. Bye Bye Pride contains some of his finest lyrics:
A white moon appears like a hole in the sky
The mangroves grow quiet
In the Parisi de la Palma a teenage Rasputin
Takes the sting from her gin
“When a woman learns to walk she’s not dependent any more”
A line from her letter, May 24
And out on the bay the current is strong
A boat can go lost
At his best (and indeed the same is true for Forster) McLennan could take his very simple building blocks, his basic chord changes and semi-spoken tunes, and make gold out of them. Bye Bye Pride is one such example. It also features stellar contributions by Amanda Brown on oboe and backing vocals. Brown and McLennan had been lovers and she was hurt that McLennan and Forster had taken the decision to end the band (their first band breakup in December 1989) without warning her first. Amanda Brown left the group and many say the band never got back to the heights of where they were in her absence.
In 2015 Steve Kilbey (The Church) selected “Bye Bye Pride” as one of his top ten Australian songs, stating “This song is so full of longing and regret and naive hope. The lyrics are so Brisbane I can almost see it all happening right before me. I never could grow sick of this song.“ The Courier-Mail’s Noel Mengel called it, “One of the greatest rock songs of the ’80s’.