Secret Meeting – The National (Alligator, 2005)
‘Secret Meeting’ is the lead-off track from the 2005 release by Cincinnati, OH indie rock band The National called ‘Alligator’ and one of my favorite tracks of the aughts.
It kicks off immediately with the cymbal crash and before long we’re into the plot led by Matt Berninger’s rich baritone. It seems to me he’s singing about a person who’s suffering a mental breakdown of some kind and having “secret meetings in the basement of my brain”. Not only that the subject is obviously paranoid and possibly schizophrenic as he believes “this place is full of spies” and quips “don’t you know how to gracefully disappear in a room?”. Another killer line is when he ventures “I know you put in the hours to keep me in sunglasses I know”.
My personal favorite part is at the :53 mark when the song shifts to a higher gear and he laments “it went the dull and wicked ordinary way” as the music lifts off. The songs simmers for another few verses before ratcheting up the excitement and climbs to a climax starting about about 2:13 as the entire band picks up speed and the other guys in the band seem to be shouting indistinctly in the background. The guitar chords are so beautiful it never fails to raise goosebumps as Berningers intones “it went the dull and wicked ordinary way” repeatedly as the song finally stops after what feels like a rally in a dank, small nightclub. Thankfully this song never went the dull and ordinary way.