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.