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Courtney Barnett Can Sing About Bongs On US TV But Can't Use The S-Bomb

29 October 2015 | 11:44 am | Bryget Chrisfield

Our writer Bryg headed for the Big Apple to see Courts

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From The Green Room inside CBS Television Network, Bryget Chrisfield drinks coffee while watching Courtney Barnett censor lyrics at the last minute like a boss. 

If you receive a text at 10.14am while in New York, inviting you to check out CBS News This Morning filming their Saturday Sessions (in this instance featuring local legend Courtney Barnett) if you can get there by 11.30am, you’re gonna book an Uber, quickly brush your teeth, grab ya sunnies (as Uber driver arrival alert sounds on mobile) and bolt out the door! It’s now time to put the pedal to the metal, across the Queensboro Bridge to 524 West 57th between 10th and 11th avenues.

Fresh from a candid one-on-one interview with CBS reporter Anthony Mason inside Avatar Studios (formerly The Power Station) at 441 West 53rd Street, Barnett joins her bandmates – bassist Andrew ‘Bones’ Sloane and drummer Dave Mudie – inside CBS Television Network. At around this time (just after midday), and cursing the New York traffic, we’re escorted into The Green Room. It’s comforting to see Barnett hasn’t suffered an airbrushed makeup attack since her au naturel appeal is certainly something to embrace and celebrate. Barnett’s trademark messy locks, baggy T-shirt and jeans combo – and Blundstones – are also proudly on display. The cover art from Barnett’s debut long-player Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit (her own illustration of a chair placed on the periphery of a rug) has been blown up on a couple of banners (with pet food brand Blue Buffalo’s logo – the Saturday Sessions sponsor – added to the bottom). The vibrant green-and-blue checks from the rug warp and rotate in custom-created graphics onscreen behind the band.

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After cups are located and coffees poured, we then shift out of view after noticing a portion of The Green Room is in shot. At one point a photographer is physically moved out of shot by a CBS crew member. According to our count, five cameras in total are used to capture the action. Although Barnett and co are informed they’re permitted more than one take, each of the three songs we witness being filmed today – Avant GardenerNobody Really Cares If You Don’t Go To The Party and Dead Fox – only require one rehearsal followed by a single take; all of which incite generous applause from the CBS crew and also those assembled inside The Green Room. During the band’s rehearsal of Dead Fox, Barnett’s manager Nick O’Byrne picks up on some lyrics (“But they're all pumped up with the shit”) that will need adjusting in accordance with the Federal Communications Commission guidelines. We chuckle when it’s pointed out that the word “bong” (“I was never good at smoking bongs” – Avant Gardener) doesn’t actually require censoring. Barnett, Sloane and Mudie go into a huddle and then, action! We wonder what word Barnett will choose in lieu of “…shit”. She seamlessly inserts “filth”, which makes perfect sense. It’s a wrap! Hook, Barnett’s TM, politely requests that we make space for the band in The Green Room, sandwiches are consumed and then we arrange to reconvene for an interview backstage at Madison Square Garden (where Barnett is supporting Blur) at 6pm.