“Eucalyptus” by The National

“Eucalyptus”, as you probably already know, is a type of plant, furthermore being one that is known to have a number of health benefits. But in this song it – or more specifically a particular type known as “rainbow eucalyptus” – serves as a plot device and is only mentioned once. And in actuality, this piece really doesn’t have anything to do with flora. 

Rather a number of household items, if you will, such as a television, records and even Mountain Valley Spring bottled water are mentioned. All of such references are meant to point to the dilemma the vocalist is going through with the addressee. 

And without beating around the bush any longer, said dilemma revolves around them breaking up or, as can also be more readily ascertained, divorcing, i.e. having built a life together that now has to be split in two, in a manner of speaking.

“You should take it ’cause I’m not gonna take it
You should take it, I’m only gonna break it”

What can be inferred by the vocalist’s conclusive disposition is that in the grand scheme of things, these various items that they now have to divide mean nothing to him. Or let’s say that without his significant other, the addressee, around, they lose their meaning and value. Or even more specifically, it can be gleaned that if the “rainbow eucalyptus” were to remain behind after their parting, it would cause the narrator additional emotional grief, being symbolic of the love he and his soulmate once shared.

And there are a couple of lines which The National’s Matt Berninger and Bryce Dessner, who wrote and produced this track, cleverly embedded within the actual verses which more clearly indicate that the vocalist does not want this relationship to end. 

But by the looks of things, the decision is foregone, and now the focus is on actually dividing the pair’s possessions, as painful of an exercise that may be for the narrator.


4AD made this track public on 22 March 2023, with it serving as the third single from The National’s “First Two Pages of Frankenstein” studio album. This band is currently made up of the following:

  • Matt Berninger
  • Aaron Dessner
  • Bryce Dessner
  • Bryan Devendorf
  • Scott Devendorf

This particular composition began with Bryce Dessner, the group’s other guitarist. He sat on it for a while, and, upon introducing it to his compadres, they were able to naturally pick up on “Eucalyptus”, having only “rehearsed it twice without… a demo” and then proceeding to play it live. And some of that initial live rendition was also captured on the final release.


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