“The Alcott” by The National (ft. Taylor Swift)

The National’s ninth studio album, “First Two Pages of Frankenstein”, was released via 4AD on 28 April 2023. It can be safely assumed that the most hotly anticipated song on the entire LP is “The Alcott”, considering that it features Taylor Swift, who can by and large be counted as the top American musician of the early 21st century.

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

This feature came about as a result of Aaron Dessner, one of The National’s multi-instrumentalists, having proven a regular behind-the-scenes’ Swift collaborator in recent years. And it was during that time, when he worked on a couple of her albums earlier in the decade, that the band first collaborated with Taylor, on “Coney Island“, a track from her 2020 project “Evermore”.

So due to that personal-professional relationship, Dessner was able to pitch the idea of Swift participating on “The Alcott” directly to her, which she readily accepted. So it is Taylor and Aaron who are credited with writing this song alongside one of the latter’s bandmates, Matt Berninger, who actually originated the tune. And the entire National crew is acknowledged as the producer of this track.

The Alcott

The Lyrics of “The Alcott”

According to the aforementioned Matt Berninger, who serves as lead vocalist, this song would be based on his relationship with his wife. And as implied in the first verse, “The Alcott” represents a venue that holds a special, memorable place as far as their romance is concerned, i.e. that between the two vocalists, with Taylor taking on the role of Matt’s significant other.

And the further implication is along the lines that by this point, the two of them have broken up. For example a person wouldn’t get “twisted in threads”, i.e. nervous, when meeting their sweetheart under normal circumstances. 

Also, the thesis sentiment revolves around the two of them “falling back in love” with each other, thus implying, once again, that this meeting at a historical place (as far as their romance is concerned) is ideally meant to serve the purpose of mending their broken relationship.

Comprehensively, what’s being put forth is more complex than that. These types of situations are never easy, in that the parties involved obviously haven’t forgotten what it was that caused them to separate to begin with. 

But conclusively, “The Alcott” can be deemed a case where love proves triumphant, with the focus being two parties who, no matter how much they may hurt each other in the past and regardless of the lingering apprehensions thereof, are more or less able to admit that they are still have an emotional need for one another.

“And the last thing you wanted
Is the first thing I do
I tell you my problems
You tell me the truth
It’s the last thing you wanted
It’s the first thing I do
I tell you that I think I’m fallin’
Back in love with you”

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