Fabulously moody Brooklyn rockers the National and British folk chart-toppers Mumford & Sons shared space on a number of festival bills around the world last summer, and Marcus Mumford says he watched the National play "five or six times." So when they were asked to do a cover on their upcoming episode of VH1's Unplugged, they chose "England," off the National's High Violet. Watch the performance here.
Mumford's take employs a gradual build, inevitably climaxing in a glorious, harmonic refrain: "Afraid of the house, stay the night with the sinners." The twinkling guitar work by twin brothers Aaron and Bryce Dessner on the National's original gets re-imagined on Winston Marshall's banjo with stirring, down-home flair.
"That song obviously sticks out for us because we're English," Mumford says of "England." "Still trying to figure out whether or not it's offensive towards English people, but we're making it non-offensive. It's like our 'Rule, Britannia' song today."
Mumford also cracked that they chose "England" over Ween's "Waving My Dick in the Wind," which would have surely been a pickle for VH1 producers. "We thought we'd save [that song] for another time," said Mumford.