I had this moment with Carrie Brownstein a few weeks ago. I was listening to All Songs Considered’s spring music preview and she said something about The National that really got me. The preview show is one of my favorites because it’s the ASC crew just hanging out and nerding out about music for about an hour and a half. Does an hour and a half sound like along time for a podcast? It is. The podcast is that awesome. I like conversational podcasts of that nature, where one can play voyeur to a conversation of like minds, the kind of conversation one could hop in and out of effortlessly.
And anyway, well they came to the part where one of them (Robin?) was playing a preview off of High Violet, The National’s new one. And Carrie expressed some reticence. The song was amazing, she admitted, but she wasn’t sure if she would be able to love High Violet the way that she loved Boxer. Her relationship with Boxer had been too intimate. Too intense. And no matter how great the new album might be, it just couldn’t be the same to her. There was a moment with Boxer that could be neither undone nor repeated.
I had that same moment with Alligator. So it was hard for me to get into Boxer. I’ve been trying lately, but it’s sort of half-hearted. I’d even concede that Boxer is a better album. The songs tighter, the polish smoother. But I just can’t quite feel it.
So it’s with a bit of trepidation that I’m listening to High Violet right now over at NPR. You can stream the whole thing here. It’s awesome. Incredible. But I just don’t know how I feel.
This is something that I love most about music though. The ability to have that indelibly intimate moment with a song. Or an album. Even on the most remote desert island across the farthest ocean, one can feel a human connection that is positively singular.
And then, later on, when you’ve returned from the desert island, moved on to some next phase in your life, these new songs come along. I’d compare it to a relationship: it’s like dating someone who looks just like an ex, has most of the same interests, even the same first name. There’s always going to be something there preventing them from being to you what the first was. Even if they’re better than the first.