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Love Letter To A Record: Alex the Astronaut On How Courtney Barnett’s Song About Noodles Got Her Through Tough Times

Written by Alex the Astronaut on April 13, 2017

Many of us can link a certain album to pivotal moments in our lives. Whether it’s the first record you bought with your own money, the chord you first learnt to play on guitar, the song that soundtracked your first kiss, the album that got you those awkward and painful pubescent years or the one that set off light bulbs in your brain and inspired you to take a big leap of faith into the unknown – music is often the catalyst for change in our lives and can even help shape who we become.

In this new series, Music Feeds asks artists to reflect on their relationship with music and share with us stories about the effect music has had on their lives.

Here are their love letters to records that forever changed their lives.


Alex the Astronaut: Courtney Barnett – ‘Three Packs A Day’

Dear Courtney Barnett’s ‘Three Packs A Day’,

I never thought that a song about Mi Goreng would ever be the song I needed to hear. That probably isn’t the best way to start a love letter but hopefully, I can make it up with some noodle-based puns. Udon know how much you mean to me, I’m absolutely crazy pho you, you make
miso happy. Sorry I’ll stop. I’m just a ramentic. Okay stopping now.

But seriously, I put off listening to you for a while because I thought you were about cigarettes and I didn’t think I’d be able to relate. I’ve tried smoking once before and I have asthma and I’m 90% sure if I smoked anywhere close to three packets in the same day I would pass out.

I listened to you on a day when none of my other music was working. Like most other music addicts I need to listen to music all the time. I have music for walking to class, for running, for before soccer games, for in the gym (which is rarely used), music for on the plane, music for happy days, for sad days, for angry days, for days when I think I like someone, for studying, (mostly piano music because WikiHow says it helps you focus) and for in between days (‘In Between Days’ is on that playlist 14 times, nothing else). However, the day I listened to you I didn’t feel comfortable in any of them.

I’d had one of those series of unfortunate events days. I’d accidently missed an exam for my Thermodynamics class. I’d forgotten a few bills, which I was on hold trying to pay and I had a broken foot so I was trying to walk my dog around while on crutches around my college campus.

Martin (my dog) kept trying to chase squirrels so I was doing my best to keep my balance with the leash attached to one crutch. That weekend I’d also found out that someone that I’d liked didn’t like me back so I was a bit embarrassed as well.

When I got off the call I shuffled through my song library and nothing was sticking. All the sappy songs were annoying me and I somehow got to you. When I heard the words “Boil it up, water in the sauce pan” it hit me. For some reason, a tear filled my eye and I started laughing. I must have looked like a crazy person.

You didn’t need to say anything. I didn’t need any wisdom. I just needed to hear about noodles. I just needed someone, like Courtney, to tell me they also eat crappy noodles like me and are doing just fine.

I’d been worrying about what seemed like a million things, one of them being that the songs I’d written for my first EP were stories that people wouldn’t want to hear. I was scared that no one would care what I had to say, or that I wasn’t wise or clever or brave enough to be taken seriously.

You made me understand that I should write all the stories that I think are important. You reminded me that music is meant to be fun and that if my bad day could be turned around by two-minute noodles then maybe the song about me being nervous for my first gig in NYC could help someone too. And also that if I want to write any food-based songs in the future you have already paved a noodleful path for me to follow.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Alex the Astronaut

Alex the Astronaut’s ‘To Whom It May Concern’ EP is out now.

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