Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Courtney Barnett's ‘Before You Gotta Go’ Video Walks the Line Between Surreal and Down to Earth

Ahead of the release of her next album ‘Things Take Time, Take Time’ due for release this November, Courtney Barnett has released a music video for her latest single ‘Before You Gotta Go’. 

Queen of keeping things real while having a bit of fun, Barnett’s music video is simple yet intriguing and helps fans speculate as to the potential meanings hidden in the song.

The video opens with her bopping around the woods, the beach, and various nature scenes in a simple black suit, armed not with her guitar but with a retro tape recorder, hand-held microphone, and headphones. 

We see her wandering around the outdoors casually, seemingly on a mission to find something to record. What she finds is a collection of odd things: a horse trying to eat her microphone, a row of ten-inch tall colourful houses, a hand coming from the sky with its own microphone, and a giant version of her own head peering out of a field of wildflowers. 

With each encounter, she seems mildly curious but unphased, more focused on finding something of interest to her microphone on her hunt for sounds.

The music matches the wandering quality of the video, and yet the lyrics come through suggesting another layer to her mission. “If something were to happen, my dear, I wouldn’t want the last words you hear / To be unkind”. There is a present sense of longing, regret, or perhaps fear of having regret. 

Barnett doesn't seem to be taking in her surroundings as much as she is focused on recording them, which is the case for many people in this day and age. Perhaps there is a subtle commentary on the current generations anxiety about wanting to document and store up everything that we experience, rather than experiencing it in the moment.

Ironically, this seemingly original and fresh video was recently the subject of plagiarism controversy when similarities were drawn between both the video concept and the song lyrics of ‘Before You Gotta Go’ and an existing music video from another Australian artist, Quivers

Barnett handled the controversy well by giving the band a shout out on Twitter for having had the idea before her, as it seems there was no actual plagiarism at play. 

Whether there is a depth to be analysed, or if the video should simply be taken at face value as a quirky romp, it's an enjoyable laid back offering from Barnett.

Aoife McMahon

Image: 'Things Take Time, Take Time' Official Album Cover (PRESS)

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