The Go Betweens : Cattle and Cane

“Icnoic” is a hugely overused word. Everything famous or even just well-known (ish) seems to be dubbed iconic. Yet it is the word that keeps coming back when I think of The Go-Betweens’ “Cattle and Cane.”

I think it is the other sense of icon, in the Eastern Orthodox tradition, a stylised yet somehow living representation. Stylised in that there is a formal, repetitive pattern to the song, and living in that Grant McLennan’s memories become our own.

As this post by Thom Hickey evokes brilliantly, “Cattle And Cane” is a tapestry of childhood memories and longings tied together by an immortal, driving, sensitive-yet-oddly-hard riff.

And I didn’t know it was written on Nick Cave’s guitar.

The Immortal Jukebox

What are we made of?

Well, you could say we are mainly Oxygen, Carbon, Hydrogen, Nitrogen, Calcium and Phosphorous.

Add some pinches of Potassium, Sodium, Sulphour, Chlorine and Magnesium.

Just the tiniest amounts of Boron, Chromium, Cobalt and Copper.

Traces of Flouridine, Iron, Iodine, Manganese, Silicon, Selenium, Vanadium, Molybdenum, Tin and Zinc.

Scientifically that’s absolutely the case.

Still, I prefer to think we are, each of us,  a whirling constellation of dreams and memories.

Dreams beget memories and memories beget dreams.

We are star shine, dreams and memories.

Just before you go to sleep – a shimmer in the mind.

Just before you wake up – slow spools of overexposed film.

A Life lived in a landscape of dreams and memories.

Sometimes pin sharp with hallucinatory detail.

The grain of the kitchen table, the fragrance of your mother’s perfume, the bark of a long dead dog, the leathery feel of your…

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