“No Dumbass Dove…”
I was privileged enough to attend a The National concert on September 11th, 2011. The fivesome found themselves headlining a gig at The Hollywood Bowl on the tenth anniversary of certainly the biggest American tragedy in my lifetime. No doubt that date was set aside for an act who’s music would neither overshadow that day, nor seem completely out of left field. It’s hard to deny how aptly The National fit that bill. What I was unaware of until that evening, however, was just how considerate the band would be concerning this tragic anniversary.
The National invited The Kronos Quartet up on stage about halfway through the show. After acknowledging the occasion (as awkwardly as humanly imaginable, very in vein with Matt Berninger’s writer-ly, insecure shtick), Matt explained that the song they were about to play was written, spur of the moment, the week following the disastrous attacks. For a band whose slow rise to fame began and flourished in the New York City music scene, the song (“Thirsty” from the album Sad Songs For Dirty Lovers) took on an entirely different dimension when presented under this context. Lyrics which previously seemed vague (even by The National’s standards) such as “Today I find myself curling up behind the house” and “There’s nothing in the air today / now I know I’m not so important” were revealed as minimalistic, expertly crafted snapshots which perfectly captured the feeling of utter despair and uncertainty the week following our nation coming under attack. But the lyric that stuck with me, the phrase that was emphatically drilled into my own heart and brain on that evening, has shaped me ever since:
“I don’t have a hawk in my heart / no dumbass dove in my brain”