The City Looks Pretty

Album: Tell Me How You Really Feel (2018)


  • The city looks pretty when you been indoors for 23 days - I've ignored all your phone calls.

    So begins this melodic slice of grunge-pop about Courtney Barnett's struggles with mental health. The Australian singer told the BBC she began writing "City Looks Pretty" in her early 20s, when she "was on anti-depressants and wouldn't leave my room" for three weeks at a time.

    When she eventually emerged, it was for a invigorating stroll around Melbourne, during which it was if "the city takes pity on your injured soul," as strangers she encountered treated her like a best friend. However, this restorative walk lasted so long that her real friends were left "worried about where I was."
  • As well as its literal meaning, the song doubles up as an allegory about isolation. Barnett explained to the BBC it's about the alienation she feels when she's "away from home and traveling and touring." She added: "The lyrics adapt to each other in different ways. So it's a strange mix."
  • Courtney Barnett makes the observation during "The City Looks Pretty" that "friends treat you like a stranger. And strangers treat you like their best friend."

    Barnett started composing the song in her early 20s about a quarter-life crisis when she went through a breakup and also moved, resulting in her whole life changing. She told Q magazine: "I had written that line about something else, but it was also so relevant to the other life, the fame-y one."


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