60 ALBUMS @ 60 : #54


Boxer – The National(2007)

2007 turned out to be an unexpectedly important year in my life.

It was a year that had begun appallingly, workwise, in that I had not long been passed over for a promotion in what could be seen as controversial circumstances thanks to some politicians interfering where they had no right to.   My role in the local authority was nigh on untenable, but given I had done nothing wrong, I had to be found another position within the organisation.

The sideways shift I undertook actually turned out to be the best thing that ever happened, certainly in the long term.  Through an incredible set of circumstances, and really being in the right place at the right time, I was able to later take up a temporary position in Toronto, beginning in June 2007, carrying out a study and analysis of the procedures and processes in place for the Ontario Provincial Elections that were taking place on 10 October 2007

I made the move to Toronto, not taking too much in the way of personal belongings beyond clothes, golf clubs and maybe around 50 CDs. It was a five-month secondment and Rachel stayed back in Glasgow, albeit, along she came for a visit that lasted a couple of weeks.

I soon grew bored with what little music I had brought with me, and so started to browse the record shops of my temporary home city. I found loads of great second-hand stores selling vinyl for what seemed like bargain prices, and so Rachel was instructed to bring over an empty case when she visited that she would then take back with some booty.  This exercise was repeated with a couple more friends who also came over for a visit.

But it wasn’t all second-hand stuff that I ended-up buying.  I was vaguely aware of The National before I went to Canada, in that a few bloggers had been talking them up.  My interest rose substantially when I caught them performing a song on one of the late-night TV chat shows in America (all the US networks broadcast north of their border – I’ve just done a bit of research, and it seem it was the David Letterman show on 24 July). I was transfixed.

I bought all four of their albums on my next visit to a favourite record store.  It  also doubled up as a place to buy tickets for upcoming gigs, and so I grabbed one for the show The National were playing at the downtown Phoenix Concert Theatre on 8 October.

All the albums were on heavy rotation for a while, but it was the newest release, Boxer, that I kept returning to.  It was a riveting listen, one that seemed to offer something different with each fresh listen.  The band, and the many other additional guest musicians, were a joy to listen to, but the greatest pleasure came via Matt Berninger‘s sublime baritone.

mp3: The National – Brainy

I’ve remained a big fan of the National ever since, always buying the new albums at the earliest opportunity.  They all have something wonderful to offer, but none have quite been at the consistent and effortless magnificence of Boxer.

Oh…and the reason for such a lengthy and detailed backstory?

I didn’t get to the concert on 8 October.

It became the evening when I, along with someone who has become a very close friend, had to do what turned into an 24-hour overnight shift to ensure that the polling stations in one particular locality would actually open as scheduled on the morning of 10 October, as the staff in charge on the ground had made an almighty mess of things, and indeed were now nowhere to be seen.

Nobody, other than the CEO  back at Elections HQ thought we could pull it off, but we repaid his faith in us by busting our asses and every other part of our anatomy, fuelled only by adrenaline, caffeine drinks and Tim Horton doughnuts.  I don’t think I’ve ever been more proud of myself, workwise, than when the auditor declared that everything was good to go, just a few hours short of the scheduled opening.

Incidentally, the someone who worked that shift with me is coming to Scotland in June to help me celebrate turning 60.  We will no doubt, as we always do, talk long and drunkenly about it all.  I’ll again curse the fact that it caused me to miss what would have been a memorable gig.


8 thoughts on “60 ALBUMS @ 60 : #54

  1. Aptly for today, what would have been Andrew Weatherall’s 60th birthday, he played Apartment Story on 6 Mix once and dedicated it to Lizzie, his partner.

  2. Yup. No arguments here. The definitive National album if you ask me. Nearly Perfect I’d say.

  3. Yes to all of this. Boxer is their finest work in my most humble opinion (yeah right). I’m looking forward to The First Two Pages Of Frankenstein based on the Tropical single and that album title alone

  4. The one dissenting voice here… The National is a band I never “got”. I still don’t “get” it. They have a sound that I should love, but I honestly cannot remember a single song I’ve ever heard by them. Even after listening to the tracks you’ve posted here, they are disappearing from my head quicker than I can type this. It’s me, obviously…

  5. Not at all Rob. I think we can all say, hand on heart, that there are singers/band out there who we should like/appreciate, but it turns out we have no time for. I don’t get Depeche Mode, despite a love for all sorts of 80s and beyond synth pop.

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