Song of the Day #2,447: ‘Elevator Operator’ – Courtney Barnett

courtney_barnett_sometimesOver the years I’ve chronicled a couple of albums in full (Frank Sinatra’s Watertown and Ben Folds Five’s self-titled debut), both records I adore and know by heart.

Over the next couple of weeks I’m going to try something different (and potentially dangerous). I’m going to post a new album, song by song, experiencing it for the first time as I write about it. If it turns out to be a turkey, we could all be in for a dreary 11 days. But I’m optimistic that it will go better than that.

The album I’ve chosen to chronicle is Courtney Barnett’s Sometimes I Sit and Think, Sometimes I Just Sit. I’ve read a lot of high praise for Barnett, and this album, over the past few weeks and I’m excited to discover it along with my loyal readers.

Barnett is an Australian singer-songwriter with a couple of EPs under her belt. This album is her studio debut. She has been praised for finding poetry in the mundane details of everyday life, a quality I love in Fountains of Wayne and Ben Folds. I guess we’ll see if she earns the comparison.

The first track on Sometimes I Sit and Think, Sometimes I Just Sit is ‘Elevator Operator,’ a slice of life tale (as advertised) about a man in Barnett’s native Melbourne who is disillusioned with the corporate life.

It’s a good start. Reminds me a little bit of early Elvis Costello, musically (This Year’s Model era). Lots of attitude but held together well.

[Verse 1]
Oliver Paul, twenty years old
Thick head of hair, worries he’s going bald
Wakes up at quarter past nine
Fair evades his way down the 96 tram line
Breakfast on the run again, he’s well aware
He’s dropping soy linseed Vegemite crumbs everywhere

[Verse 2]
Feeling sick at the sight of his computer
He dodges his way through the Swanston commuters
Rips off his tie, hands it to a homeless man
Sleeping in the corner of a metro bus stand and he screams
“I’m not going to work today
Going to count the minutes that the trains run late
Sit on the grass building pyramids out of Coke cans”

[Verse 3]
Headphone wielding to the Nicholas building
He trips on a pothole that’s not been filled in
He waits for an elevator, one to nine
A lady walks in and waits by his side
Her heels are high and her bag is snakeskin
Hair pulled so tight you can see her skeleton
Vickers perfume on her breath
A tortoise shell necklace between her breasts
She looks him up and down with a botox frown
He’s well used to that look by now
The elevator dings and they awkwardly step in
Their fingers touch on the rooftop button

Don’t jump little boy, don’t jump off that roof
You’ve got your whole life ahead of you, you’re still in your youth
I’d give anything to have skin like you

[Verse 4]
He said “I think you’re projecting the way that you’re feeling
I’m not suicidal, just idling insignificantly
I come up here for perception and clarity
I like to imagine I’m playing SimCity
All the people look like ants from up here
And the wind’s the only traffic you can hear”
He said “All I ever wanted to be
Was an elevator operator, can you help me please?”

[Chorus x2]


2 thoughts on “Song of the Day #2,447: ‘Elevator Operator’ – Courtney Barnett

  1. Dana says:

    I like this idea. I’m looking forward to discovering this album with you. And I agree with your assessment of this first track. It had me interested from the start. I think this artist and album shows promise. Let the grand experiment begin!

  2. pegclifton says:

    Like the grand experiment, not liking the “sound” so much

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