Aaron Dessner Tells Apple Music About The National's New Song "Weird Goodbyes" (feat. Bon Iver) and Previews Forthcoming Album

Article Contributed by Apple | Published on Monday, August 22, 2022

Aaron Dessner of The National joins Zane Lowe on Apple Music 1 to discuss the group’s new song “Weird Goodbyes” (feat. Bon Iver). He tells Apple Music about the origin of the track, collaborating with Bon Iver, coming back together as a band for the first time in the three years, and previews the sound of the group’s forthcoming (which he says reminds him of the ‘Boxer’ era).

Aaron Dessner Tells Apple Music About “Weird Goodbyes” and The Return of The National...

I think it was a hard at first to come back because we had never taken a break in 20 years and then the pandemic forced us to take a three year pause. We’ve basically been touring our whole adult lives, since the late 90s and then there was this break… and you could be home and you could work. Be with your families. "Weird Goodbyes" is one of the first songs we wrote coming back to it and there’s lots of emotion in it. I hear the old engine of the National and I hear also new places that we’re going to and it did help set a course for us. It’s really special to come back, it’s like a family… a slightly dysfunctional family that comes back and then you restart the engine and it's very powerful.

Aaron Dessner Tells Apple Music About Collaborating with Justin Vernon and How He Ended Up on “Weird Goodbyes"...

Justin, he’s one of my best friends — I would say more than anything we’re close friends so we bounce things off of each other. Usually if we write a Big Red Machine song it’s by accident. Whereas The National is much more intentional in a way. This song, all of us weirdly, as soon as Matt started singing that song we kind of starting hearing Justin harmonizing… The heart and feeling in it felt like something he would sing or be moved by. He heard the song, I sent it to him and he was deeply moved by it. I think also because it was the first new National song he’d heard in years. Who knows? Maybe there was a chance The National wouldn’t make new songs? He’s definitely someone who only makes music when he’s inspired, he doesn’t force it. He had some great ideas for us and kind of pushed us a bit harder. He sang so powerfully and we were like… “this is done"

Aaron Dessner Tells Apple Music About The Subject Matter of “Weird Goodbyes”...

Some of the words he wrote early on after I had written the music. Its really based on the drum beat. I think Matt, his words were so moving from the beginning. To be… life moves so quickly and you age so quickly and its sort of wanting to hold on to right now and actually feel the air, really be able to hold on to things. Because I think ultimately the song is about mourning, loss of innocence, loss of motivation.  It’s a great National song if it's about a lot of things and this one is.

Aaron Dessner Tells Apple Music About The National’s Forthcoming Album...

For Matt, when his has a breakthrough…for this album, he’s been really doing the work and he’s pushed himself. Something things come quickly and other times there’s a struggle and it’s kind of a combination of that….  The album we’re making, which is really special and we’ve had a lot of time to work on it.

Their sketches and kind of trying to create an environment for some one to live in or give meaning to, like Matt or Justin. In this case, I was really trying to imagine what a new National album would sound like and feel like and this was one of the first songs that came to life with that in mind and kind of lean in to what is a future of The National that would be interesting or emotionally compelling. So we’ve been writing with that in mind.

I wouldn’t say its super heavy… its emotional. There’s a way of writing about disillusionment and disconnect and wanting to escape or reconnect…. It actually feels very direct in a way. It reminds me of older songs, even ‘Boxer' era. We’re really excited… we’re very close.