I’ll say the same thing about ‘Pink Rabbits’ that I said about ‘Conversation 16’ back in 2010: if you still haven’t heard The National’s best song to date, then you are depriving yourself of the year’s best moment. It seems like every time this band puts out an album, there is one track on it that is arguably better than anything else released within the same 365 days: ‘Mr. November’, ‘Apartment Story’, ‘Conversation 16’…and now, ‘Pink Rabbits.’ What all these songs have in common is accessibility, propelled by underlying emotional turmoil that prevents them from sounding watered down. I would say that’s their formula, or something else intelligent-sounding, but honestly The National just do whatever the fuck they want and excel at it with relative ease.
Here, they go the route of the sedated pop ballad. The song is so perfectly constructed that it doesn’t matter what Matt Berninger is singing about, but as usual, he has paired top-of-the-line musicianship with phenomenal lyrics. The meaning of the song is somewhat ambiguous, especially when it comes to determining whether it was written from the perspective of a guy – “I’m so surprised you want to dance with me now, you always said I held you way too high off the ground” – or from a girl – “You didn’t see me I was falling apart, I was a white girl in a crowd of white girls in the park”, but either way it’s ridiculously poignant. From the guy’s perspective, I can’t help but relate to Berninger’s borderline-tragic realization; I mean here’s a guy who has apparently just gotten used to living life without the girl he loves, and she appears in the midst of his healing process to request a dance that, if my experience is any indication, will set him back months in his recovery process. He goes on to lament, “I was coming back from what seemed like a ruin, I couldn’t see you coming so far – I just turn around and there you are.” It’s the kind of feeling that anyone with a broken heart can relate to.
That’s one way of looking at it. The other is that the dance is a form of closure to a relationship that lacked that essential moment and kept Berninger from moving on, as is indicated by the first few lines, “I couldn’t find quiet I went out in the rain, I was just soakin’ my head to unrattle my brain. Somebody said you disappeared in a crowd, I didn’t understand then, I don’t understand now.” I prefer this viewpoint because it’s slightly less depressing, but there’s pristine beauty in this song no matter how you perceive the lyrics. ‘Pink Rabbits’ is just that type of song – one that has become so rare because of copycat musicians – but manages to take an overdone musical topic and present it in a wholeheartedly refreshing light. I honestly can’t think of a song that is similar to ‘Pink Rabbits’, and I hope that it stays that way. The National aren’t one of the most important bands of our generation for no reason…it’s songs like these that transcend time and become engraved in our memories. The National have written a goddamned lot of timeless masterpieces, but this just might be their best. If you haven’t taken five minutes to listen to this song yet, do yourself a favor and click on the video below.
Warning: This song will make you feel