There’s a line in Courtney Barnett’s song “Depreston” that stands out to me, and I can’t get over how great it is. The irony is that the line — “I’m saving 23 dollars a week” — shouldn’t stand out at all. It’s so matter-of-fact, like an unremarkable piece of an unremarkable conversation you might not even remember having.
Some context — the song is ostensibly about moving to the suburbs, and a piece of the first verse concerns how buying a coffee maker saves you money, but I relate to the song as a story about growing up. I can remember taking the exact steps she outlines. Deciding it’d make sense to stop regularly buying cups of coffee and start making them. Moving to a neighborhood where Mrs. YHT and I can’t walk to stuff anymore. Those definitely felt like adult decisions when we made them, and I associate both with the tide of responsibility that seems to just keep rising throughout your 20’s.
So much of becoming an adult involves making decisions that you know are right but that feel like a betrayal of self, whether it’s brewing your own coffee, buying a more practical car or moving to a part of town where you can afford a mortgage. The knowledge that you’re positioning yourself for long-term happiness is offset by the pain of killing an earlier and maybe funner version of yourself, and the total effect can feel a little like nothing. A wash. That’s why Barnett’s straightforward delivery of the 23 dollars lyric hits me so hard — she’s nailed what that specific nothing feels like. Other moments in the song nail it too, like the “I guess it wouldn’t hurt us” line.
Listen below and click here to buy her new album (which has a fantastic title), Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit.