The Bob Dylan album Courtney Barnett fell in love with
(Credits: Far Out / Press)
One of the most influential artists of all time, there is no end to the amount of artists inspired by the songwriting of Bob Dylan. Although his 1960s heyday has long since passed, Dylan has remained an immensely talented icon who has had a profound effect on virtually every musician who came after him. One such example is the Australian artist Courtney Barnett.
Barnett has been releasing music for the past decade, including collaborations with the likes of Kurt Vile. Enjoying a healthy mix of commercial and critical success, the Sydney-born singer-songwriter has become a notable figure internationally.
Known for her lyrics covering topics ranging from mental health struggles to domestic violence against women, Barnett is a truly unique voice in modern indie rock music. Much like Dylan, her songwriting often holds an important message and is often backed up by witty lyrics and a dry sense of humour.
The influence of Dylan over Barnett’s discography is obvious, and the indie folk guitarist has always remained open about her deep appreciation for Dylan’s work. In fact, she once referred to the famous track ‘Times They Are-A Changin’’ as “Probably one of the greatest and most timeless songs ever written, with those damn genius lyrics: ‘Don’t criticise what you can’t understand.’”
There is great debate over the highlights of Dylan’s discography and, whilst she seemingly has an appreciation for most of his material, one album in particular that Barnett fell in love with. “I bought New Morning at a second-hand record store (it was $10; I had only $10), and it didn’t leave my record player for a long time,” she revealed back in 2016. New Morning saw Dylan revert to his signature nasal singing style after the controversial Self Portrait album in 1970.
Despite the record providing Dylan with his last number one album in the UK, it is generally overlooked within his discography. Released during the intervening years between his counter-culture beginnings and 1975’s seminal release Blood on the Track, New Morning, whilst a stellar album, rarely received much attention. Nevertheless, it had a big impact on Barnett, who said: “I would lay in my bed all day every Sunday and be so sad about something or other and listen to [New Morning].”
A highlight of the record for Barnett comes in the form of ‘If Not For You’, a love song from Dylan to his then-wife Sara. While New Morning was not Dylan’s most notable record, ‘If Not For You’ was a fairly successful track, later covered by both George Harrison and Olivia Newton-John. “This was my favourite song,” shares Barnett, not bad use for her last ten dollars.