The National tonight. Cincinnati originated, Brooklyn relocated, doing a session in Paris for the renowned Bernard Lenoir for Radio France International, known as The Black Session – on April 29, 2005.
Bands like The National are something of an inspiration for up-and-coming musicians. Forming in 1999 and balancing music with paying rent and eating, the band members finally were able to quit their day jobs and be The National full time – six years after putting it all together. Further proof success is no overnight thing, and the slog, that day-to-day hustle to do what you need to do in order to feed the body and the art at the same time is very real and is exhausting. But that’s reality – that’s what happens. And it’s that pragmatic approach, that no-bullshit-we-gotta-do-what-we-gotta-do is something every artist and band needs to hear and thoroughly indoctrinate themselves with if they are planning on getting anywhere in music.
Okay – enough of the preaching. This session comes at the time they released their third album, Alligator, only days before this session. This was their breakthrough album. This is the album that spun everything into place. And clearly, the French audience is picking up on it.
The Black Sessions are an interesting, and completely eclectic series of live session gigs (much like John Peel did for the BBC) which, rather than have the band go into the studio and record a bunch of tracks, adds an invited audience of about 200 to lend an air of spontaneity to the proceedings. It’s like a mini-concert and this atmosphere suits The National quite nicely.
The National have had a lot of critical praise over the years. NME added four of the groups albums in 2013 on the Greatest Albums of All Time list. So, you get the feeling the timing was right to lose the day-jobs and step off the coil.
And their still very much at it.
Have a listen and hear what they were up to in 2005, and up to it in Paris.