You know that feeling of too little, too late? It’s exquisite. It means you tried your guts out for something, to make it meaningful, to make it work, and it didn’t quite get there.
You know that feeling of almost? Almost there? Almost touching? Almost close enough? Same deal.
It’s like nearly. And should. And maybe. It’s close, so close, and it almost counts. Edging toward a finish line that’s getting farther away. Mastering the game when nobody told you the rules had changed.
Imagine the aftermath of that. Or think back to the last time you felt it, the people involved, the situation, the exquisite longing. The pangs.
Now meet that aftermath in Pink Rabbits, a truly bittersweet song by The National, who must be amongst the most multilayered of all bands. They may have slipped under your radar if you prioritise other things over seeking out new music. In 2013 they released an incredible album called Trouble Will Find Me which I still can only listen to all the way through once in a sitting, because it’s pretty sombre and it’s definitely contagious.
Pink Rabbits is on side 3 of the vinyl I spin when I’m upbeat enough to bear it and inspired enough to take it on. It opens with reluctant, resigned piano chords which, if they were a person would be one who said, “Well, that happened.”
The singer from The National is called Matt Berninger and apparently he’s quite an upbeat guy. It’s possibly the musical equivalent of comedians being the saddest people, or chefs getting fast food instead of cooking for themselves.
I’d assumed that a Pink Rabbit was a celebrated cocktail, something smouldering and favoured by femmes fatale. It is instead the name of a cocktail that Berninger made up. I wondered if a fainting chair, which also features in the lyrics, existed – it does, and now I want one.
There are scattered references to a storm to end all storms throughout the lyrics; and a femme fatale who’s maybe as lost as Berninger sounds. When he sings “You said it would be painless, it wasn’t that at all,” it’s like a quiet regret – not that he listened, but that he believed.
Pink Rabbits is worth a listen because as well as saying “Well, that happened,” it says, “Well, at least I gave it a shot.”
Press play and see what you hear.
Trouble Will Find Me: