The National is back with a brand new smashing album, First Two Pages of Frankenstein. And from this album came the single “The Alcott” featuring Taylor Swift. And let’s be clear, this song was made with fans of “coney island” and “exile” in mind.
According to Matt Berninger of The National, the song was inspired by his wife, Carin Besser, with Taylor Swift writing in a response to fit his part once she had gotten the material to work with from Aaron Dessner. Forgive me for being cliché, but Taylor Swift on “The Alcott” is a match made in heaven.
“I get myself twisted in threads / To meet you at The Alcott / I’d go to the corner in the back / Where you’d always be / And there you are, sittin’ as usual / With your golden notebook / Writing something about someone / Who used to be me,” Berninger kicks off the piano-driven track by singing about a love that’s trying to spark back into life again.
Throughout the track, we hear Berninger sing about “fallin’ back in love” and Swift’s response hint at moving on with lines like, “Give me some tips to forget you.” However, it’s not clear whether they both agree on moving on or staying together because Swift’s lines do change from aching to move on to a willingness – a reluctant willingness – to give their love one more chance.
In a press release, Berninger explained the meaning behind the song, saying, “It’s about two people with a long history returning to a place and trying to relive a certain moment in time. It’s got the feeling of a last-ditch effort to hold onto the relationship, but there’s a hint of something positive where you can see the beginnings of a reconnection.”
Speaking with Apple Music, he further delved into what inspired the song, saying, “I was imagining a scene—a contained moment and narrative between two people. Someone meeting someone at a place they used to hang out, or maybe the other person wasn’t expecting them, but knew they’d be there. It’s just two people that maybe have a chance to reconnect and maybe they don’t. I wrote and I sent it to Aaron, and when he sent Taylor a few things, she heard that one and was able to instantly get into the mindset of the person I was talking about.”
He continued: “So she wrote all her stuff as a response to me, and very much from the perspective of my wife, who I was writing about. So when Carin heard that one, and heard Taylor Swift embodying her character in a song, writing responses to me, that was really fun for everybody. It was a really cool moment. It was like walking down a path and thinking you’re alone, and all of a sudden somebody appears out of nowhere and joins you on this path.”