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    Friday, December 01, 2006

    Pretty forever: The National Black Sessions MP3s

    Photo by Pope Rathman

    There are small but telling ways to separate a National superfan from a casual Alligator appreciator. Being able to tell the Dessners apart at a glance, knowing which film "Wasp Nest" appeared in (Syriana), having the lyrics to songs like "Minor Star of Rome" or "High Beams" memorized, or knowing what Mr. November is really about ("
    partly about John Kerry, part Matt - the anxiety and pressure leading up to the election and also the end of the album" according to Aaron).

    But perhaps the most rewarding piece of National trivia is knowing about their two Black Sessions performances. Organized by French DJ Bernard Lenoir
    (le noir meaning "the black" in French) for his show "C'est Lenoir," the Black Sessions have been a radio institution since 1992. And Lenoir was such an early and ardent National fan that he invited them to appear not only in 2003 but again for a rare encore show in 2005. He was also wise enough to pick Sad Songs For Dirty Lovers as his favorite album of 2003.

    I've already featured a few songs from their earlier Black Session, but I've since received numerous e-mails requesting more. It's easy to see why people respond to it so well. Both Black Sessions are great, but the 2003 one is especially vital, showcasing just why the National has such a kinetic live presence.

    The band thrives in these freer settings, playing harder, louder, looser, building on each other's energy in ways that studios don't encourage. And Matt Berninger is at his most compelling too, his romantic demons so prevalent here they could qualify as backup singers. Throughout the set, he sounds like he's one whiskey sour away from falling apart. Then, from time to time, he loses the battle and lets it all out through a few glorious, soul-wrenching screams. That alone should be enough to win over a few more superfans.

    * MP3: "Pretty Forever" (Live) - The National from Black Sessions, 11-17-03
    * MP3: "Available" (Live) - The National from Black Sessions, 11-17-03
    * MP3: "90 Mile Waterwall" (Live) - The National from Black Sessions, 11-17-03 [Buy other National]
    * Band Website: The National

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    Comments on "Pretty forever: The National Black Sessions MP3s"


    Blogger Philippe said ... (10:44 AM) : 

    Thank you so much ! I'll post a link from my blog (superblive.blogspot.com)


    Blogger Dust Road said ... (3:13 AM) : 

    hehehe! i thought you were describing me in this post.
    though the 2005 black session finds them in perfect form, it's the 2003 one that captures what the national are all about (at least in my mind). from the addictive build-up in thirsty, to the heart-breaking vocals on 90-mile waterwall and the plain genius of pretty forever, it's my perfect driving soundtrack.


    Blogger zazafromjohor said ... (6:18 PM) : 



    Blogger Ian said ... (5:31 AM) : 

    thanks for the tracks! I'm so keen to get my hands on as many 'new' national tracks as I can... can't wait for the new album...

    also, do you have links to the rest of the tracks from the 2003 black session? I've got all the tracks from the 2005 show, but I've only got a few from 2003...

    thanks again!


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