The National are working on a new album, and they've been trying out some new songs live as they play shows this summer. One of them, "Weird Goodbyes," they've played a number of times over the past few months (sometimes with the title "Bathwater (Mount Auburn)"), and now they've released the studio version, which features Justin Vernon of Bon Iver. "'Weird Goodbyes' was one of the first new songs we made," Aaron Dessner says. "I was misusing drum machines, as usual, and stumbled onto this beat that got stuck in my head — it felt like something only Bryan could naturally play. We built the song around the beat. Matt’s melody and words felt so elegant and moving from the beginning — mourning a loss of innocence and motivation, holding onto memories and feelings that inevitably slip away and the grief we all suffer in weird goodbyes."

"I somehow could hear our friend Justin’s voice and heart in this song from the beginning," Aaron continues. "We sent it to him and it moved him – he then sang with Matt so powerfully."

Aaron talked more about the song on Apple Music 1 with Zane Lowe, saying, "Justin, he’s one of my best friends — I would say more than anything we’re close friends so we bounce things off of each other. Usually if we write a Big Red Machine song it’s by accident. Whereas The National is much more intentional in a way. This song, all of us weirdly, as soon as Matt started singing that song we kind of starting hearing Justin harmonizing… The heart and feeling in it felt like something he would sing or be moved by. He heard the song, I sent it to him and he was deeply moved by it. I think also because it was the first new National song he’d heard in years. Who knows? Maybe there was a chance The National wouldn’t make new songs? He’s definitely someone who only makes music when he’s inspired, he doesn’t force it. He had some great ideas for us and kind of pushed us a bit harder. He sang so powerfully and we were like… 'this is done.'"

Matt Berninger says that "Weird Goodbyes" is "about letting go of the past and moving on, then later being overwhelmed by second thoughts." Bryce Dessner arranged the strings, which are performed by London Contemporary Orchestra, and you can hear it below.

Justin and members of The National have frequently collaborated, including Aaron and Justin's Big Red Machine project and their work Taylor Swift.

Aaron also told Zane Lowe some more about the new album The National are working on:

For Matt, when his has a breakthrough…for this album, he’s been really doing the work and he’s pushed himself. Something things come quickly and other times there’s a struggle and it’s kind of a combination of that…. The album we’re making, which is really special and we’ve had a lot of time to work on it.

Their sketches and kind of trying to create an environment for some one to live in or give meaning to, like Matt or Justin. In this case, I was really trying to imagine what a new National album would sound like and feel like and this was one of the first songs that came to life with that in mind and kind of lean in to what is a future of The National that would be interesting or emotionally compelling. So we’ve been writing with that in mind.

I wouldn’t say its super heavy… its emotional. There’s a way of writing about disillusionment and disconnect and wanting to escape or reconnect…. It actually feels very direct in a way. It reminds me of older songs, even ‘Boxer' era. We’re really excited… we’re very close.

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