October 18, 2010

if i could, i’d be your star again, fall across your falling sky


I have so many of these favorite National songs that it’s hard to recount all the ones that have laid me out over the years. I mean that literally; I often lay flat on the floor when I am listening to them, and just let them wash over me. I woke up with a tightly-wound knot in my belly this morning about seeing The National in concert tonight, for my first time in a non-daytime festival setting.

This is one song that I hardly think they’ll play tonight, since it is off their self-titled 2001 debut album, but it still grabs at my insides something fierce.

American Mary – The National

He’s missed her love because he never realized how much he had it. It’s an advance summary of so many songs in The National catalog, a wasteland of missed opportunities, cracked hope, nights when the stars never aligned. She looks at him with her silver eyes, as someone she doesn’t recognize.

I’ve sometimes wondered why they named their website after this song title. It could have just been that they liked the sound of the words, but that part of me that always wants to make sense of everything thinks that there might be some summation in this song of what the National is about.

I’ve also spent more time than I should have wondering about the line “don’t be a nightingale for anyone’s space to fill.” It might just be words strung together, but I want to believe there is something more behind that imagery. The nightingale has been linked to the idea of an artistic muse, and Shelley wrote: “A poet is a nightingale who sits in darkness and sings to cheer its own solitude with sweet sounds; his auditors are as men entranced by the melody of an unseen musician, who feel that they are moved and softened, yet know not whence or why.”

For what that’s worth.

Outside Lands Friday 132

give my jewels to the army, my silverware and jeans
give my love to your family; tell them anything.
give yourself to anyone; give yourself away
don’t be a nightingale for anyone’s space to fill.

if i could, i’d be your star again
fall across your falling sky…

it takes a lot of little rain to make you feel like nothing.
anything, anything you can do, do to me for everything i did for you
i didn’t try to take your love away
i just never knew i had it…

there is nothing you can say to ever make me want you
there is nothing you can say to ever make me leave you

american mary…

[my photo from Outside Lands 2009]

Tagged with .


  • Loveeeeee the National. All four times I’ve seen them this summer they NEVER disappointed. Enjoy.

    Mp — October 18, 2010 @ 6:47 pm

  • well, i hope deeply that you’re not disappointed.

    i actually hadn’t seen them until this summer, though they’ve been one of my favorite bands for many years now (though, admittedly, less so with every release since alligator–which is one of my desert island top 5.)
    never have i seen the energy in a building rise and fall like it did at their show. this swing from pure love and elation to bored conversations, was purely synchronized with the age of the songs they were playing…it would have made a pretty excellent line graph. as a music fan, of course i feel like i could’ve picked a better set list at least 95% of the time, but never have i so badly wanted to shake a band and say, “please play a far greater percentage of songs from when you were better.” i get that as an artist, you want to play your new work, but there’s a certain point beyond which the artist vs. performer scale is tipped at an irritating angle–especially given the ticket cost.

    i think it was 4 songs from before boxer, 2 or three from boxer, and their entire new album.
    it was sad.

    nawanda37 — October 18, 2010 @ 8:14 pm

  • Heather, hope your show was a great as the Seattle show was for me a few weeks back. Truly breathtaking. In my mind they’ve never been better than they are right now. Hard for me to imagine being disappointed by them.

    TW — October 18, 2010 @ 10:22 pm

  • Great song/post. I also LOVE this song. The website and song “American Mary” are actually what the band was called or intended to call themselves before settling on The National.

    uwmryan — October 19, 2010 @ 9:42 pm

  • I have been reading some Oscar Wilde stories lately, and I came across one called “The Nightingale and the Rose”. I can’t help but wonder if the nightingale line in the song references this story. I will have to think about it.

    PS: here is the link for the story:


    mike — October 22, 2010 @ 10:30 am

  • I love all of their albums, but my favorite is High Violet.

    Derek — November 25, 2010 @ 10:23 am

Comments RSS

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Subscribe to this tasty feed.
I tweet things. It's amazing.

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.

View all Interviews → View all Shows I've Seen →