I had a secret meeting in the basement of my brain

Thursday night I went to see The National.  They are a group that started in Ohio in their youth, disbanded as they grew up, and reformed when the band members all found themselves in the same area of Brooklyn.  Most people haven’t heard of them, but if you watched Obama’s acceptance speech on election night, they played part of The National’s "Fake Empire" on a loop just before Obama came out.  It was also featured in this ad in much the same way. (That might have even been playing, the video part, at the acceptance speech.  I can’t remember exactly.)  The National is probably the best example I know of how free content can actually make an artist money.  I received a promo copy of "Fake Empire" from a friend who gets a lot of sample/advance music, and I played it to pieces until Boxer came out, then bought the whole of Boxer, and then eventually very nearly everything they’ve ever put out.  I’m now awaiting their next album, which is out in 2010, or so I hear.  I even made them MORE money by, in an ironic twist, going back to the friend who gave me the free copy and telling him how good it was, and I think he went back and bought the whole album, too.  

I love The National like I love few other bands, and they’re one of the very few I’ll ever be able to see live, because something tells me E.S. Posthumus isn’t hitting the road anytime soon, and Kate Bush probably isn’t coming to the midwest, either.  They’ve been an integral part of SMALL TOWN BOY ever since I started rewriting it again, and they’re the best blend of what I like about music.  Amazing lyrics, but still simple.  Great sound, but no arrogance.  They are so incredibly Midwestern, but they speak to things that anyone can relate to.  I love all the songs from Alligator and Boxer, but some of the most beautiful are on Boxer.  One of my favorites is "Gospel."

GOSPEL
I got two armfuls of magazines for you
I’ll bring em over
so hang your holiday rainbow lights in the garden
hang your holiday rainbow lights in the garden and I’ll
I’ll bring a nice icy drink to you

Let me come over I can waist your time I’m bored
Invite me to the war every night of the summer
and we’ll play G.I. blood, G.I. blood
we’ll stand by the pool
we’ll throw out our golden arms

Darlin can you tie my string
killers are callin on me
my angel face is fallin
feathers are fallin on my feet
Darlin can you tie my string
killers are callin on me

Stay near your, stay near your television
Set it up outside
and hang your holiday rainbow lights in the garden
hang your holiday rainbow lights in the garden and I’ll
I’ll bring a nice icy drink to you

Let me come over I can waist your time I’m bored
Invite me to the war every night of the summer
and we’ll play G.I. blood, G.I. blood
we’ll stand by the pool
we’ll through out our golden arms

Darlin can you tie my string
killers are callin on me
my angel face is fallin
feathers are fallin on my feet
my angel face is fallin
feathers are fallin on my feet
Darlin can you tie my string
killers are callin on me
Darlin can you tie my string
killers are callin on me

(Lyrics found here.)

Thursday I got to see The National live for the first time, and it was one of the more amazing experiences I’ve had.  For one, it was so fun to know almost every song so well I could sing along.  Even better was to be in a room full of over six hundred other fans, all singing along and shouting as well.  Usually the things I like leave me in an island to myself, but that night I was in a sea of like minds, and it was absolutely fantastic.  But best of all was the band itself.

 
I have never felt so inside the music as I did while watching The National perform.  "Perform" isn’t even the right word.  They very literally were the music, and in such a natural and unassuming manner–there was no ego on that stage, not at all, just pure, complete joy for the art.  And then, as if that weren’t enough, they invited you in, because they understood that the audience was part of that art, too.  The music was loud, and huge, and the performers were like a channel, and because they opened it to us, so were we.  At one point during one of the encore songs ("Mr. November") the lead singer climbed off the stage, waded through the audience and climbed onto the dais of a set of stairs–I think he would have gone higher, but he had a corded mike, and I think he was at the end of his tether.  He seemed to do it because the music made him, and the audience went along with it, and so did the band, and their support: the stage hands came out to feed him more cord, and the audience helped it along, then when he was done, passed the mike back for him.  Everything about the concert flowed like this.  The experience was a ninety-minute wave of energy, and it carried with us even after it was over.

 

Best of all, I got to see all this with Dan, who looked very hot in his black t-shirt and grey hair.  He drove me up, drove me back, and enjoyed it all along with me, even though he was only marginally familiar with the music.  He stood for four hours with me as we waited for the concert to start and the pre-show to end, and he walked me back to the hotel.  And as I stood there having the best musical experience I’ve ever had, all I could think of was that I wouldn’t want anyone else there beside me.

And that’s what I did last Thursday.

 

3 Comments on “I had a secret meeting in the basement of my brain

  1. That sounds amazing, Heidi! Glad you had such a wonderful time.
    I have a hard time at live shows unless they’re artists I know intimately or if it’s more about the show than the music, itself. Kath and Janelle are much more likely to enjoy a concert if they only know one song. Me, not so much.

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