The acoustic video for this song was shot in my old apartment. We found some red fabric and pinned it to the walls, then played while the one-man camera crew rotated flashlights around to look like spotlights..
This was the first song I ever wrote for Anna and I to really sing together. I love the sound of her voice on this recording. When we sing it live we have a kind of game in which we stare intensely as possible at each other — which is super funny to both of us because she’s like sister — every now and then one of us straight up loses it and laughs.
I still prefer the demo of this song to the recording. Dave (Sardy) and I had a series of spirited debates about this song which ended with a compromise and a switchblade being pulled (as a joke, I think). The song is about the mind-numbing process of touring: the endless parade of people, places, overwhelming experiences and the quiet observer at the center of your mind growing ever-distant from reality.
Because of an arcane music industry practice, we were told we needed one more track for the record than we had. At the time we were already in Nashville, long since done with all of our pre-production rehearsals, already halfway through the recording process… So we got in a room and started playing something from an old “jam” session (we rarely “jam,” I kind of hate the idea actually). In about five hours we had something basic worked out. We pressed record. I spent two days locked in a room writing lyrics and that became Safe. I love Anna’s violin on the breakdown. –
The eponymous first record was almost called This is Nowhere. In fact, that name remains on all of the final mixes before submitting them to iTunes. At the last minute, it was decided that our band name was long enough and we didn’t need any more verbiage crowding the cover. This song is about the characters in the short story The Crack.
We recorded this song in one take, in friend’s living room, while Daren was on his lunch break from work.
I wrote this song in a flurry with three songs about the same person and situation (Happiness is Overrated and Missy were the others). It was a busy week.
I played a very early demo of this song for the guy who founded The National’s first record label. “This sounds like Pavement,” he said. First and last time we’ve received this comparison (though Pavement is one my and Steven’s all time favorite bands).
I used to play this song for my neighbor’s cat
The intro that was included in the Disney Hall version of the song was actually a completely different song called “Heaven is a Map.” Once I realized the two songs were in the same key, we combined them since one seemed to be like a prelude to the other.