Things Take Time, Take Time
Here’s what a typical day of lockdown looked like for Courtney Barnett in 2020: “Wake up, watch the sunrise, do some meditating, drink some coffee, do some work and then some songwriting,” she tells Apple Music. “Go for a walk, call a friend, then some more work.” Living alone in a friend’s empty Melbourne apartment, Barnett found herself in a reflective mood, often watching the world and seasons change from her window, a guitar in her lap. “A lot of the time there wasn't much else to do,” she says. “But I think it's good sometimes to just sit and watch or listen, to take a minute.”
Written in the quiet of hotel rooms or that very apartment, Barnett’s intimate third LP is a set of meditative rock that feels uniquely present, the Aussie singer-songwriter playing like she’s got nowhere to go and nowhere else she’d rather be. It’s music that feels akin—spiritually and sonically—to that of one-time collaborator Kurt Vile, a placid coming together of jangly guitars, purring drum machines, and zen turn of phrase. “I feel that quietness is often a reflection of the writing, but also I think that I was just craving a quieter sound,” she says of the album. “I've gotten used to just taking things as they come over the years. Nothing is ever how you think it's going to be, so it's just trying to live in those moments and make the most of them.” Here, Barnett guides us through a few of the album’s songs.
“Rae Street” “The chorus [‘Time is money and money is no man’s friend’] is something that I remember from my childhood, something my dad would say as a bit of a joke, as a hurry-up if we were late for school or whatever. It's just always stuck in my head, and when I reflected on it as an adult, it took on a whole new meaning, especially in the context of last year when the world slowed down or stopped in some places, and people lost jobs.”
“Sunfair Sundown” “That was inspired by a party with friends—one of those nights you feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude for friendship and connection. I started writing it the next day, just because of that overwhelming, beautiful, big feeling—it was that simple. It was just celebrating very special small moments and the fact that small moments can mean so much. Sometimes, to one person, it's just another day, but it could totally change or affect someone else's life.”
“Here’s the Thing” “I just remember when I wrote that song, it felt special straight away. The guitar chords and the melody—it all came quite naturally and quickly. It started as a letter and then it turned into a song, and over time it’s morphed, as songs do. It’s constantly evolving. I just think it's such a simple, beautiful song—I feel a lot when I play it.”
“Turning Green” “Starting out, we did this whole version that sounded like a jangly guitar-pop song. But it didn't grab me, so we pulled it apart and [Warpaint drummer] Stella [Mozgawa] reprogrammed some drums. I put the guitar down because it just didn't seem like it fit, and we kind of flipped it on its head to see if it would inspire a better feeling. And it did, straight away—just singing along to it made the words come to life in a different way. Sometimes, in the studio, you just want to throw so much stuff onto songs and it just gets crowded and busy, and then you kind of lose track of what's happening. The change gave the words space and that space was really important for a lot of this album, but this song especially.”
“Write a List of Things to Look Forward To” “The song’s title came from someone saying, ‘You should write a list of things that you're looking forward to.’ And that just inspired the thought behind it—what that means and what it represents. It’s a song about gratitude, but it is also about connections in life, this idea of life and death and being afraid of it and just being at peace with that progression.”