Tiny Desk

Courtney Barnett

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13 min 33 sec

Courtney Barnett can tell you a story like she's your best friend — provided your best friend is a funny poet with an Australian accent. Listen to "Avant Gardener," an autobiographical account of trying to turn a life around through gardening, only to be foiled by a severe allergic reaction. The tale that follows at this Tiny Desk Concert, "History Eraser," is a ramble in an alcohol-fueled dream state; it features some of the best lyric-writing in music today. Here's a sample from that song:

I found an Ezra Pound and made a bet that if I found a cigarette I'd drop it all and marry you. Just then a song comes on: "You can't always get what you want" — The Rolling Stones, oh, woe is we, the irony! The Stones became the moss and once all inhibitions lost, the hipsters made a mission to the farm. We drove by tractor there, the yellow straw replaced our hair, we laced the dairy river with the cream of sweet vermouth.

The only downside for a fan like me is that these songs have been kicking around my head for more than a year. As she played them, I found myself hoping for something new, too. And so it was that Barnett graced the Tiny Desk with a brand-new tune, not yet on a record, about a suburb near Melbourne known as Preston; it's a song about house-hunting that she appropriately calls "Depreston." The song is thoughtful, acerbic and funny, just like the woman who sings it.

Set List

  • "Avant Gardener"
  • "History Eraser"
  • "Depreston"


Producers: Bob Boilen, Denise DeBelius; Audio Engineer: Kevin Wait; Videographers: Denise DeBelius, Gabriella Garcia-Pardo, Olivia Merrion; photo by Jim Tuttle/NPR

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