Hopefulessness

Album: Tell Me How You Really Feel (2018)

Songfacts®:

  • When Courtney Barnett started penning the Tell Me How You Really Feel lyrics, she was in a bad way, frustrated at her inability to deal with the misogynist world she lives in. The result was this song. She told Pitchfork:

    "The song is about trying to figure out where my anger fits into what's happening in the world. I was looking at my own behavioral patterns, the same stories I tell myself, and then trying to break out of them."
  • The song finds Barnett attempting to coach herself to change her behavioral patterns.

    Your vulnerability
    Stronger than it seems
    You know it's OK to have a bad day


    She explained: "I was trying to find a positive side to that general feeling of despair, trying to find optimism, somewhere. I kept seeing myself being sad and angry, and what's the point in that? Who are you gonna help? So it's about trying to be like, 'I'm hopeful,' but not feeling it - but trying to feel it."
  • For a long time, this was going to be the last song on Tell Me How You Really Feel. Courtney Barnett admitted to Uncut magazine that working out the track listing "always gets me stuck," as it "can make or break the listening process, which is such a pity when you've put so much effort in."

    Barnett added that when she had completed her tour with Kurt Vile tour, she and her partner Jen Cloher went on a road trip across America. They "listened to the album in 10 or 15 different orders until it felt right. Putting that song at the start seemed to make sense. It gave me the feeding of the orchestra tuning up and everything falling slowly into place."
  • During the song, Courtney Barnett paraphrases a series of social media-friendly sayings from assorted sources. She references Nelson Mandela ("You know what they say, no one's born to hate") and Carrie Fisher ("Take your broken heart and turn it into art").

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