Belated graduation from school of rock

July 24, 2015 5:23 am 0 comments Views: 3
Robert Forster receives an honorary doctorate at University of Queensland. Pic: Mark Cran

Robert Forster receives an honorary doctorate at University of Queensland. Pic: Mark Cranitch
Source: News Limited

HE’S always been a man of notes, but now he is a man of letters.

Go-Betweens founder Robert Forster was this week awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters from the University of Queensland, 40 years after he first enrolled.

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The Go-Betweens, who penned the Brisbane-inspired hit Through the Streets of Your Town and have the city’s newest bridge named after them, had their beginnings at the university.

Forster met bandmate Grant McLennan in a drama class on the campus, and one of the band’s early songs, Karen, was written as an ode to the university’s librarians.

The band’s drummer in the ’80s, Lindy Morrison, also studied social work at UQ.

Forster says: “The university was the starting point for The Go-Betweens, and a surprising amount of what we learned there went into the band.

“The university had such a central place in Queensland in the ’70s during the Bjelke-Petersen era; it was a very lively political, social and intellectual world.’’

Robert Forster tells Iain Shedden about making his first album since the death of his Go-Betweens songwriting partner. Video by Christine Nestel

The Go-Betweens released nine albums to international acclaim before McLennan died of a heart attack in 2006, aged 48.

“I never forget that Grant was the one who finished his degree and I didn’t before the band took me away,” Forster says.

“Grant lived on campus for a while and the university was an important part of his life. Whenever I’m there I always think of him more than I do anywhere else in Brisbane.

Karen is a song I wrote while I was there. I spent a lot of time in the libraries and the librarians had this stillness about them I found very attractive.’’

Forster is writing a memoir and his first album in seven years, Songs To Play, is released in September.

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Originally published as Belated graduation from school of rock

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