- READ MORE: The National on new music: “It’s the whole history of the band, but with a new exploration”
‘Weird Goodbyes’ was released last week and features Bon Iver‘s Justin Vernon on vocals. While introducing Pecknold, The National’s Aaron Dessner said that their friend and collaborator had never sung the song before.
Elsewhere in the set, The National played another new song – ‘Tropic Morning News (Haversham)’ – and hits from across their back catalogue.
Watch them play ‘Weird Goodbyes’ with Robin Pecknold and see the full setlist below.
The National have been performing ‘Weird Goodbyes’ live since late May. They played it for the first time in Pamplona, Spain on May 28 – the first National show in three years – where it was billed on the setlist as ‘Bathwater (Mount Auburn)’.
Speaking in a statement about ‘Weird Goodbyes’, The National’s Matt Berninger said: “It’s about letting go of the past and moving on, then later being overwhelmed by second thoughts.”
On the process of making the single, the band’s Aaron Dessner added: “‘Weird Goodbyes’ was one of the first new songs we made. I was misusing drum machines, as usual, and stumbled onto this beat that got stuck in my head – it felt like something only Bryan could naturally play. We built the song around the beat.
“Matt’s melody and words felt so elegant and moving from the beginning – mourning a loss of innocence and motivation, holding onto memories and feelings that inevitably slip away and the grief we all suffer in weird goodbyes.”
Quizzed on his previous comments that the new music they’d been penning had a “classic National sound”, the guitarist remarked: “I think that is true, but other things are true as well. What I can say is that we’re at a high watermark in terms of our creativity as a band. There’s a lot happening, and a lot of music. We’re allowing ourselves to dream about it, take risks, try things and give the songs time to develop.
“It’s starting to become something we’re really excited about. It’s hard to say what shape it will take, but there’s a ton there.”