The National first released their self titled album “The National” in 2001, now I don’t know what you were doing in 2001, but I was in no specific order:

  • Binge drinking Natural Light on a Fraternity House front porch to kill the pain of hearing “Stan” by Eminem for the 1000th time
  • Playing the Moulin Rouge soundtrack at theatre parties
  • Listening to Ska

I didn’t come around to The National until much later. I was living in The Bronx and started dating a Lower East Side Girl. I was hustling in the downtown theatre scene in a very cool play about professional wrestling, doing freelance carpentry and videography all over the city.

Ms. Lower East Side worked in fashion doing something. Those well dressed foxes in black ankle boots were always doing something. Making prints. Forwarding emails. Breaking hearts … but most importantly: Introducing me to The National. We would drink red wine and look at the weird sculpture park across from her cramped studio in the LES and listen to her immaculate taste in music.

Every song I was asking, “who IS this”, while trying not to act drunk or get in her pants. The one band that continually stuck out was The National.

Ms. Lower East Side started me of with their album “Boxer”, and this became the soundtrack for my NYC experience for that year.

Green Gloves” became the song I used to cut sentimental 8mm bbq and birthday b roll videos to. “Slow Show” played on loop as I sighed restlessly on subway platforms waiting for her texts as snow fell and covered the city.

The album WAS me, and I WAS The National. The entire album felt like a secret whispered from The Double Down Saloon, to Gun Hill off the 5 Train. It was glorious.

Then something happened. The Lower East Side Girl had broken up with me in a very unceremonious fashion after I had gone and gotten us coffee one morning. I was devastated. After pounding Jamesons and Yueglings post break up talk at One and One (a LES Bro Down staple), I checked my iPhone and … The National, they had stuck around.

Time passed. I moved to Brooklyn like all of us did, I branched out from Boxer and came to The National’s album High Violet; Walking into a bodega one day, I found myself singing about Spiders and Bees and I thought, “what the fuck am I singing?”.

I suddenly noticed that The National’s lyrics really didn’t make sense a lot of the time. They were playfully ambiguous in places that left them open for interpretation, sure, but they talked about animals in weird turns of phrases. Like a lot. And they mentioned birds, like a bunch.

Years later and many other break ups past I present to you my research and everytime that the National uses animals in their lyrics.

From one weirdo to another, Enjoy:

The National – 2001 (9 Mentions)

The Perfect Son

Now I own furniture, a 401, and crow‘s feet

American Mary

Don’t be a nightingale
For anyone’s space to fill

Theory of the Crows

But I need you to disprove
My theory of the crows
But I’ll need you to disprove
My theory of the crows

29 Years

Birds are flying out of water
Underneath the sky
My swan will never sing
I have no heart, the swan is gone
And now I wear the wings

Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers – 2003 (26 mentions)

Cardinal Song

And do everything she’d never do
Don’t let her see your cardinal eyes
And do everything she’d never do
Don’t let her see your cardinal eyes
Don’t let her see your cardinal eyes

Thirsty

I don’t have a hawk in my heart
No dumbass dove in my brain
I don’t have a hawk in my heart
No dumbass dove in my dumbass brain
I don’t have a hawk in my heart
No I don’t have a hawk in my heart
No I don’t have a hawk in, I don’t have a hawk in, I don’t have a hawk in my heart
No I don’t have a hawk in my heart
I don’t have a hawk in my heart
No I don’t have a hawk in, I don’t have a hawk in, I don’t have a hawk in my heart
I don’t have a hawk in my heart
In my heart, In my heart (I don’t have a hawk in my heart)
No I don’t have a hawk in my heart

Sugar Wife

I’m no butterfly, I’m no
I’m no butterfly, I’m no butterfly

Trophy Wife

One time you were a good rabbit
To all the girls

Cherry Tree – 2004 (6Mentions)

Wasp Nest

You’re a wasp nest
You’re a wasp nest
You’re a wasp nest
You’re a wasp nest
You’re a wasp nest
You’re a wasp nest

Alligator – 2005 (13 Mentions)

Secret Meeting

Didn’t anybody tell you this river’s full if lost sharks?

Karen

I must be me, I’m in my head
Black birds are circling my bed

The Geese of Beverly Road

We were here, we were here
We’ll set off the geese of Beverly Road
Our room on the floor
We’ll set off the geese of Beverly Road

City Middle

I want to go gator around the warm beds of beginners
I’m really worked up
I want to go gator around the warm beds of beginners
I’m really worked up
I want to go gator around the warm beds of beginners
I’m really worked up
I want to go gator around the warm beds of beginners
I’m really worked up
I want to go gator around the warm beds of beginners
I’m really worked up

The Thrilling of Claire

What’s the difference between what this is and what it was?
Well, you got your pretty white bird and
Well, you got your dove

Boxer – 2007 (5 Mentions)

Fake Empire

With our diamond slippers
Do our gay ballet on ice, bluebirds on our shoulders

Squalor Victoria

Out of my league, I have birds in my sleeves
And I wanna rush in with the fools
Out of my league, I have birds in my sleeves
And I wanna rush in with the fools

Green Gloves

Cinderella through the room
I glide and swan
Cause I’m the best slow dancer
In the Universe

High Violet – 2010

Terrible Love

It’s a terrible love and I’m walking with spiders
It’s a terrible love and I’m walking in
It’s a terrible love and I’m walking with spiders
It’s a terrible love and I’m walking in
It’s a terrible love and I’m walking with spiders
It’s a terrible love and I’m walking in
It’s a terrible love and I’m walking with spiders
It’s a terrible love and I’m walking in
But I won’t follow you
Into a rabbit hole
It’s a terrible love and I’m walking with spiders
It’s a terrible love and I’m walking in
It’s a terrible love and I’m walking with spiders
It’s a terrible love and I’m walking in

Bloodbuzz Ohio (11 Mentions)

I was carried to Ohio in a swarm of bees
I never married but Ohio don’t remember me
I was carried to Ohio in a swarm of bees
I never married but Ohio don’t remember me

Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks

Swans are a-swimmin’
I’ll explain everything to the geeks
Swans are a-swimmin’
I’ll explain everything to the geeks

Trouble Will Find Me – 2013 (10 Mentions)

Demons

Bats and buzzards in the sky
Alligators in the sewers
Then the sunlight dims
The less I look
The more I see the pythons in the limbs

Humiliation

All the L.A. women
Fall asleep while swimming
I got paid to fish them out
And then one day I lost the job

Pink Rabbits

Am I the one you think about
When you’re sitting in your fainting chair drinking pink rabbits?
Am I the one you think about
When you’re sitting in your fainting chair drinking pink rabbits?
And everybody was gone
Am I the one you think about
When you’re sitting in your fainting chair drinking pink rabbits?
Am I the one you think about
When you’re sitting in your fainting chair drinking pink rabbits?
And everybody was gone

Sleep Well Beast – 2017 (1 Mention)

Carin at the Liquor Store
I was a worm, I was a creature