of Aaron Dessner National Join Zane Lowe on Apple Music 1 to discuss the group’s new song “Strange Goodbye” (feat. Bon Iver). He tells Apple Music about the track’s origins, collaborating with Bon Iver, coming together as a band for the first time in three years, and previews the group’s upcoming sound (which reminds him of the ‘Boxer’ era).
Aaron Desner Tells Apple Music About “Strange Goodbye” And Return Of National …
I think it was difficult at first to come back because we had never taken a break in 20 years and then the pandemic forced us to take a three-year break. We’ve been touring basically our whole adult lives, since the late ’90s and then there was this break… and you could be home and you could work. Stay with your family. “Strange Goodbye” is one of the first songs we wrote that was coming back to it and has a lot of emotion to it. I hear the old engine of the Nationals and I also hear the new places we’re going and that helped set the course for us. Coming back is really special, it’s like a family… a bit of a dysfunctional family that comes back and then you restart the engine and it’s so powerful.
Aaron Desner tells Apple Music about collaborating with Justin Vernon and how it ended in “Strange Goodbye.”
Justin, he’s one of my best friends – I’d say more than just we’re close friends so we bounce things off each other. Usually if we write a Big Red Machine song it’s by accident. Whereas National is in a way more deliberate. This song, strange to all of us, when Matt started singing that song we started to hear Justin’s harmony…the heart and the feeling that he was singing or touching. He heard the song, I sent it to him and he was deeply moved. I think because it was the first new national anthem he had heard in years. Who knows? Maybe there was a chance not to make national new songs? He’s definitely someone who only makes music when he’s inspired, he doesn’t force it. He had some great ideas for us and kind of pushed us a little harder. He sang so powerfully and we were like… “It’s done”
Aaron Desner tells Apple Music about the theme of “Strange Goodbye.”.
Some of the words he wrote after I wrote the music. It’s really based on the drum beat. I think Matt, his words were moving from the beginning. To be… life moves so fast and you get old so fast and its kind of like holding on right now and actually feeling the breeze, actually being able to hold onto things. Because I think the song is ultimately about grief, the loss of innocence, the loss of inspiration. It’s a great national anthem if it’s about a lot of things and it is.
Aaron Desner tells Apple Music about National’s upcoming album…
For Matt, when he has success with this album…, he’s really working and he’s pushed himself. Some things come quickly and other times there’s a struggle and it’s kind of a combination. The album we made, which is really special and we had a lot of time to work on it.
Sketching them and trying to create an environment for someone to live in or give meaning to, like Matt or Justin. In this case, I was really trying to imagine what the new National album would sound like and feel like and this was one of the first songs that leaned into that mind and what the future of The National was. That would be interesting or emotionally compelling. So we have written it keeping that in mind.
I wouldn’t call it too heavy…it’s emotional. There is a way of writing about disillusionment and disconnection and wanting to escape or reconnect. It actually feels very direct in a way. It reminds me of old songs, even from the ‘boxer’ era. We’re really excited… we’re so close.