Song of the Week – Avant Gardener, Courtney Barnett


Courtney Barnett is an Australian musician with a penchant for clever lyrics and a deadpan, Lou Reed like, vocal style. Her song “Avant Gardener” was on my list of top cuts in 2014 and is today’s SotW.

The song actually came out on a 2013 EP called How to Carve a Carrot into a Rose, but I didn’t discover it until last year.

Pitchfork named it the “Best New Track” of 2013 and describes it like this:


“Avant Gardener” tells the story of a girl dragging her underemployed ass out of bed late on a Monday morning to try her hand at gardening– at which point she suffers a panic attack.

The scene unfolds like a dream: “Halfway down High Street, Andy looks ambivalent/ He’s probably wondering what I’m doing getting in an ambulance,” Barnett sings, her voice drifting through the lines in sweet speak-sing. “The paramedic thinks I’m clever ’cause I play guitar/ I think she’s clever ’cause she stops people dying.” They’re both right. Later, the song’s poor narrator struggles to get a good pull on her asthma inhaler. “I was never good at smoking bongs,” she confesses.

I think it was an asthma attack (she’s in a garden!), not a panic attack — thus the need for the inhaler — but close enough.

I’m pretty sure it’s Barnett that plays those angular guitar fills that sound like fingernails on a chalkboard (which is good in this setting). And just to make me like her a little bit extra, she plays left-handed.

Enjoy… until next week.

3 thoughts on “Song of the Week – Avant Gardener, Courtney Barnett

  1. I posted this before, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

    I honestly thought something new was up with the REAL Avant Gardener (kind of like Iggy Stooge to Iggy Azalea). Courtney Barnett should’ve left well enough alone.

    Steve Moyer called this the “Best New Track” of 1977 and describes it like this:

    “A bunch of Gumbys from Monty Python chant while multiple guitars jam like motherfuckers.”

  2. Well shit, I never heard this before and it’s great. But 1977 was one of the best years ever. There were more great songs released in 1977 than have been released in the whole new century which ain’t so new anymore.

  3. Strange Gurl in Clothes, thought it seems not for long, is good to hear. There was a reason Talking Heads called their elpee 1977. We all knew it was happening.

    Courtney Barnett wasn’t even born in 1977, or probably 1987, and has made a pretty nice song about having asthma. Whoever made that video should have found the budget for Billy Squier’s video producer.

    Both groups should be penalized for the Avant Gardener pun. Really.

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