“Apartment Story” by The National 

In relation to the album “Apartment Story” is derived from, Matt Berninger, who is recognized as this song’s primary writer, explained that he intentionally practices ambiguity as far as writing lyrics are concerned. In other words, he wants listeners to practice a bit of self-interpretation, and he doesn’t want his pieces to have a specific meaning per se.

You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for The National's Apartment Story at Lyrics.org.

But that said, it does appear as if “Apartment Story” is based on a particular concept. Yes certain parts of the song, such as the first verse, rely heavily on what can be classified as symbolic language. But it is also generally discernible that what the vocalist is speaking to is the concept of adulthood.

Song’s Subjects

The two main subjects at hand read as if they may be romantic interests and more importantly, a couple who are venturing out on their own for the first time. This would be what the “apartment” represents, i.e. the first domicile of their maturity, so to speak. Or for the sake of simplicity, we can say something like they are newlyweds, both of whom are living away from their parents for the first time.

And as such songs tend to go, the pair promptly comes to realize that being on their own is not as gratifying as idealized. They find themselves faced with what can probably be determined as economic hardship, though more to the point would be discouragement now that they’ve been served a cold plate of independence. 

Clinging on to Hope

As it currently stands, hope in the present is lost. But since the young couple do have their “looks and perfume” (which sounds more or less like an allusion to their youth and associated strength), then at least they have confidence that the future may bring something better.

But again, even if the above may be akin to the most general understanding of this piece, respective listeners may find different notions embedded therein. For instance, the line “tire and wire, we ruin too easy” does sound like a metaphor pointing to the tiring pace of modern society. 

So with a comprehension like that in mind, it can be hypothesized that perhaps Matt is alluding to a wider, socio-psychological concept, i.e. youth being socialized into believing that adulthood is a lot simpler to master than it actually is. But either way, at least the song ends on bit of positive note, as mentioned earlier. That is to say that life may suck in the moment, but the couple appears somewhat confident that eventually they’ll figure things out.

Lyrics to The National's "Apartment Story"

Facts about “Apartment Story”

This song is the second single from The National’s album “Boxer”, being released as such by Beggars Banquet Records on 5 November 2007. 

The National’s Aaron Dessner and Matt Berninger are credited as the writers of this song. And the entire band, as a unit, is acknowledged as its producer, alongside Peter Katis.

The music video to this track, under the direction of Banner Gwin, features some of The National’s personal friends and family members. And it was filmed in Brooklyn, i.e. the band’s base city.

It appears that despite being a single, “Apartment Story” failed to chart. Indeed The National didn’t really start catching on until “High Violet” (2010), their studio album that came after “Boxer”.

Apartment Story

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