Courtney Barnett is known for making the mundane profound. She writes about the spookiness of abandoned flour canisters, how good ramen is, the color of her ceiling, how she needs to mow her lawn, etc. (I once wrote this Is This A Courtney Barnett Lyric Or Just Something I Did Today? quiz to prove exactly that). However, when all her lyrics tie together, they mean something so much greater. On Tuesday, the Australian rocker released a new song in the exact same vein. It’s called, “How To Boil An Egg.”
“How To Boil An Egg” was released as a part of the Split Singles Club series, a collaboration between her Milk! Records and Bedroom Suck Records. Sadly, we’re not getting anything from Barnett’s upcoming sophomore album yet (although we’ve heard she’s in the studio with Kurt Vile), and in fact, “How To Boil An Egg” isn’t even an album outtake; it’s a ditty she’s been playing for a while.
“I used to perform this song at all the open mics when I was 21,” Barnett explained on Facebook. “It never got recorded, so for personal-posterity I updated it and made this version recently when I was bunkered up in the bush doin’ some demos for my next album. In tradition of the Milk! Records compilation releases, like ‘Pickles From The Jar’ or ‘Three Packs A Day,’ I wanted to include a song of mine for Split Singles Club that was a tad left of album-centre. It’s a songwriting experiment that doesn’t really belong anywhere else.”
Barnett plays every instrument on the song, which is about taking accountability for her irresponsible and bland life by using the exact same devices I was telling you about: “All my clothes in milk crates, I don’t sleep for days” and “Oh, hang the washing / Hang the washing on the line / Yeah, hang the washing / Hang the washing on the line.” However, nowhere in the song does she actually teach us how to boil an egg. In fact, there’s no mention of eggs at all. But perhaps that’s what the song is about in the first place — it’s about expecting to have someone come and teach you the ways of life, but in reality, you have to figure everything out yourself.