May 20, 2008

The National :: “Without Permission” (from The Virginia EP, out today)

The new Vincent Moon-directed film that follows the making of The National‘s 2007 album Boxer is out today. A Skin, A Night offers the gorgeous treatment that this music deserves, making it feel even more special, all wrapped up in moonlight and grainy black and white. The film is being screened at select U.S. locations (and hmmm, should we do a Denver one?) and if you buy it, the DVD comes paired with an excellent collection of 12 rare/demo/unreleased tracks called The Virginia EP.

In addition to collaborations with like a song with Sufjan Stevens recorded at Benny’s Wash ‘N Dry in Brooklyn, some great UK b-sides including one called Santa Clara (which I like to pretend is about my alma mater), and that sublime Springsteen cover I posted in April, there are several home-recording demos and live tracks.

This cover is one of my immediate favorites on the EP — a mournful, quietly sad song written originally by a Bristol-born singer-songwriter named Caroline Martin. It starts with a fill of organ pipes like you just stopped into that little cathedral, and now are not quite sure what for. Maybe to say a prayer for someone, light a candle. Maybe just to sit in the silence.

Quickly the song blossoms within its traditional structure that caused me to wonder at first if this was a reinvention of an old doo-wop tune from a girl group. But there within the simplicity, The National wrenches out new layers of genuine loss and missing someone so much that all you can construct are lines that are three or four words long.

Without Permission (Caroline Martin cover) – The National

well I just don’t know
how you could go
without permission

‘Cause well,
if you’re not there
well i just don’t care
for this omission

Every moment brings me down
when you’re not around
but all i’m asking for
is come back for just one day

where did you go?
and do you now know
how to be happy?

‘Cause here
well it’s pretty clear
when you’re not near me
i am unhappy

Every moment brings me down
when you’re not around
but all i’m asking for
is come back for just one day

I’ll make it worth the while
just to see your smile
that’s all i’m asking for

I’ve come to know
you had to go
without permission

‘Cause it was how
how i wore you down
and how i dragged you ’round
my sore ambition

Every moment brings me down
when you’re not around
but all i’m asking for
is come back for just one day

I’ll make it worth the while
just to see your smile
that’s all i’m asking for

my dear

Originally featured on Caroline Martin‘s debut album I Had A Hundred More Reasons To Stay By The Fire (2005, Small Dog Records)

Order the A Skin, A Night DVD / Virginia EP here


[other Vincent Moon/National work]


  • You’re the best.


    sean broom — May 21, 2008 @ 9:04 am

  • yes we most definitely need a screening here in Dirty D.

    Jevan — May 21, 2008 @ 10:23 am

  • does this help?

    thanks for introducing me to The National in the 1st place.

    finn — May 23, 2008 @ 7:45 am

  • I’m Caroline Martin, I wrote Without Permission and love The Nationals version of it…. I prefer it to my own!
    I first met The National about 6 years ago when we were on the same line up at a tiny pub in London. They asked me then if I would mind if they coverd the song to perform at their gigs… would I mind?! I was honored! I can’t belive 6 years later it’s on a release. I open for them at a couple of shows in UK at the end of this month – can’t wait.

    Anonymous — June 11, 2008 @ 4:59 pm

  • Wow, Caroline, thanks for sharing that great little story…I’m envious of the UK fans who can catch your lineup together.

    heather — June 11, 2008 @ 6:16 pm

  • I was fortunate enough to see The National two nights ago at the Carling Academy in Birmingham.

    Caroline Martin did the first part and was standing right by my side on the crowd seemingly enjoying the show when the main set ended with Fake Empire. She immediately ran to the backstage and I thought “What the hell…”.

    At the start of the encore, only a short few minutes later, Matt Berninger said they would be playing one of his favourite songs only recorded on an EP and written by Caroline Martin. He then invited her to sing Without Permission with them.

    It was a nice moment indeed!

    PT — July 2, 2008 @ 2:32 pm

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

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