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The National’s ‘Eucalyptus’ Snapshots A Couple on the Brink

It's the third pre-release track from the upcoming 'First Two Pages of Frankenstein'
Photo: Josh Goleman

If you’re in the midst of or still recovering from a breakup, you might want to proceed with caution before playing “Eucalyptus,” the third new National song to be released ahead of the group’s upcoming album, First Two Pages of Frankenstein.

“Throughout the record there’s a lot of looking into the abyss and wondering if a relationship has run its course,” frontman Matt Berninger says of the song. “‘Eucalyptus’ is about a couple splitting up their possessions after a breakup — like, ‘What are we going to do with the spring water we get delivered, what’s going to happen to all these plants?’ It’s about all those little things you end up having to think about when you’ve become so connected to someone.”

Berninger also wonders aloud who will keep the Afghan Whigs albums and who will retain the Cowboy Junkies’ discography, only to conclude, “You should take it / ‘cuz I’m not gonna take it. You should take it / I’m only gonna break it.” “Eucalyptus” is accompanied by a video directed by Chris Sgroi and filmed along with Berninger’s brother Tom at group member Aaron Dessner‘s Long Pond studio in Hudson, N.Y.


Group member Bryce Dessner crafted the song and sent it to Berninger long before the National officially started work on First Two Pages of Frankenstein, which arrives April 28 on 4AD. Berninger then surprised Dessner by writing lyrics over the instrumental and asking if the group could play it during soundcheck for a Sept. 23, 2022, show at the Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, N.Y.

“We rehearsed it twice without ever having had a demo and played it to the audience that night, and what you hear on the album was partially recorded during that performance,” Bryce Dessner says. “It’s got this raw, immediate feeling, and it made sense to leave the rough edges instead of trying to perfect them.”

The first single from Frankenstein, “Tropic Morning News,” recently earned the National its first No. 1 on Billlboard’s Adult Alternative Airplay chart since 2017. The group begins a world tour on May 18 in Chicago.

Meanwhile, Aaron Dessner will join Ed Sheeran for a special March 27 show in London, during which Sheeran will debut material from his upcoming Dessner co-written and co-produced album Subtract, due May 5.