For an artist like Courtney Barnett, one that is defining a generation of listeners, there’s bound to be curiosity surrounding her tastes and inspirations. Not only does she boast an original and earthy quality to her songwriting, but she also clearly pays regular tribute to her predecessors. Either through her raw recording quality or the casual coffee drawl of her voice, there’s something classic in it. So, when she speaks of her favourite songs and artists, it’s no surprise that she has immaculate taste.
Perhaps a bit more than just her favourite song, as it seems that Courtney Barnett‘s musical tastes host a soft spot for a classic vintage act that inspires her time and time again. And that would be none other than Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground, the subversive pop maestros.
With that depth and twang she has going on, this comparison actually makes a ton of sense. When asked about her lyrical inspiration in particular, Barnett said, “I’m inspired by those who write in a similar vein – slightly sarcastic, a bit Lou Reed. Simplistic yet observational.” She mentioned Reed in conjunction with a few other inspirations, such as Nirvana, Hendrix, Jeff Buckley, Talking Heads, Television, and PJ Harvey.
When asked to describe her own sound, she said, “People ask all the time and I never know what to say. Garage Rock? I’m not sure what it is, it’s a combination of lots of music.” That can be heard throughout her three studio records, each one providing a fine portrait of a moment in time.
When it comes to more specific songs by Lou Reed, Barnett has also been quoted saying, “[My favourite song of all time is] Lou Reed’s ‘Perfect Day’. It gets me every time.”
‘Perfect Day’ is one of Lou Reed’s most iconic songs, due in part to the way that it so accurately captures his style. Not only does it offer that sombre, melancholy quality that Reed is so well known for, but it also offers a range that makes it feel whole and complete. While other critics have pointed to the song’s apparent reference to heroin, Reed always claimed differently: “That’s a lovely song. A description of a very straightforward affair.” It’s a favourite of his extensive catalogue for plenty of fans, and now we know that this includes Barnett as well.
Her love of Lou Reed runs deep, too, as she actually covered a Velvet Underground song in 2021 for the cover album, I’ll Be Your Mirror. Barnett contributed the title track, and it’s definitely easy to hear just how well her voice fits over this classic tune. If you want to take a listen to Courtney Barnett’s Lou Reed cover, you can listen to it down below.