“Turn the light out,
no thinking for a little while –
let’s not try to figure out everything at once.”
About the Song:
“Fake Empire” is a song by The National that appears on the band’s fourth studio album, Boxer. The song was released in June 2008 as the album’s third, and final, single.
“Fake Empire” was written by Bryce Dessner of The National. He has said on the song’s early conception, “Conceptually I said I would love to write a song that was based on a certain polyrhythm, the four-over-three pattern, which is what you hear in the piano. It’s something I, personally, have never heard in rock music. What’s interesting is the song sounds like it’s in four, but it’s in three. The harmonies and the way I’m playing the piano music are actually incredibly simple – sort of like “Chopsticks” simple – with this really weird rhythm. At the end we said, ‘Oh, wouldn’t it be cool if we had a horn fanfare?’ so Padma wrote this very Steve Reichian minimalist horn fanfare.”
Lyrically, “Fake Empire” is a commentary about a generation lost to disillusion and apathy. Vocalist Matt Berringer further explained to The Quietus that it is about “where you can’t deal with the reality of what’s really going on, so let’s just pretend that the world’s full of bluebirds and ice skating.”
There is an emotional resonance within this song that transcends the lyrics. From the first time I heard the song it wrapped itself around my insides, pulling at them, tugging at my own emotional core. It feels, to me, like a song about complacency, about loss, about giving up on things, and then coming across something, or someone, that wakes you up – if only a little bit – if only halfway.
And suddenly you are feeling SOMETHING again.
Maybe its not enough, or maybe its everything you needed to start to sort things out, to start seeing through the fog and not fall off your feet in the rubble. Perhaps it is just enough to begin – something, anything, everything.
Matt Berninger’s voice just slays me. I want to hear it all the time.
Fake Empire :: The National
from the album, Boxer