A Love Letter To: Courtney Barnett

Illustration by Marney Anderson

Illustration by Marney Anderson

By Marney Anderson

Dear Courtney,

I’ve listened to your music down long stretches of lonely roads with my knees against the dash of a car that smelled like stale tobacco. With the people I love at three in the morning, next to sticky spots on the coffee table and empty cups. I found you around the time I turned eighteen, when my life started revolving around my friends, our boozy nights, and waking up dazed in unfamiliar sheets.

Around this time, I started experiencing heartbreak but sometimes I’d feel absolutely nothing. I’d either spend days in bed or days not knowing when I’d come home. Sometimes I’d feel like you were narrating my transition into awkward adulthood, and that sense of passionate hopelessness that comes from seeing the world in a new light. Being constantly broke, jobless, or an emotional wreck, but finding joy in small moments that spot like a burning sky before sunset.  

Your music touches me because it makes my thoughts feel less alone. Even though I am loud and pull things towards me like a hurricane, I am as vulnerable as the wine glasses and beer bottles that slip through my fingers. Your music gives me a voice because it says the things that go over in my head at three in the morning, while searching for some sort of meaning in the ceiling. I always thought that being young meant being lost, however, you’ve helped me realise that being lost doesn’t always mean being alone.

As a woman, I’ve always thought about myself in terms of my body. Where it dips and sags, where rough patches turn smooth, and how the heavy eyes of old men in dank bars follow the curve of my calves. I’ve always wanted to be funnier and smarter, but have always been betrayed by the bigger part of me that wanted to be prettier and skinnier. There have been so many incredible women with big voices who have taught me that a woman’s mind is worth more than her body. You are one of these women, and I respect you because you fight tirelessly for people to recognise you due to your musical talent, your humour, and your insight. You shouldn’t have to fight for this, but it is the slow and sad reality of how our world turns.

I think society has a way of making women feel as though they aren’t as funny as men, and if they are, it’s because we’re laughing at their expense.  And as someone young, female, and never in control, I’m always worried that I am the butt of the joke. You have taught me that it’s okay to laugh at yourself, love yourself, be unsure of yourself, and to question the world that questions you.

Thank you for making me feel a little less lost (even though I will be asking for directions the rest of my life).





Originally published in Love Letters Issue 001.