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Meaning of ‘The Alcott’ by ‘The National’ feat. Taylor Swift

Released: 2023

Features: Taylor Swift

The track “The Alcott” by The National, featuring Taylor Swift, is a poignant exploration of the cyclical nature of a troubled relationship, marked by an unwillingness to let go of the past. At its core, the song delves into themes of love, regret, and the emotional turmoil associated with rekindling a connection that might be better left in the past. It’s a narrative laid over gentle melodies, creating a haunting reflection on love’s complexities.

The opening lines introduce the protagonist’s intentional efforts to intersect paths with their former love, symbolizing the lengths one might go to reignite an old flame. “I get myself twisted in threads to meet you at The Alcott” could indicate both a physical journey to a familiar place and the mental entanglements that come with revisiting memories of a past relationship. The reference to “The Alcott” likely symbolizes a place of significance for the two, possibly where their love story began or flourished.

As the song progresses, it’s revealed that the other party is somewhat of an old soul, penning their thoughts in a “golden notebook” – this detail might symbolize the precious, yet heavy, weight of memories and thoughts they record, reflecting on the narrator as someone who “used to be” important to them. The golden notebook could also signify the idealized memories and the preciousness of past moments captured in writing, contrasting with the present reality.

The chorus emphasizes the tragic irony of the relationship dynamics: what one person desperately seeks is exactly what the other dreads. This push and pull create a tension that’s both the allure and the curse of their connection. Phrases like “the last thing you wanted is the first thing I do” illustrate this cycle of conflicting desires – the narrator seeks closeness and confession, while their partner craves distance and perhaps a semblance of peace from the turmoil of their past.

The song’s bridge reveals a deeper layer of self-awareness and resignation. The repetition of the phrase “I’ll ruin it all over and over” underlines a history of repeated mistakes and the self-sabotaging nature of the protagonist’s actions. Despite the love and the pull to rekindle things, there’s an acknowledgment of an inevitable downfall. It’s almost as if the protagonist is trapped in a loop of causing pain to both themselves and their loved one, highlighting the destructive patterns that can plague relationships.

The closing lines, “Back in love with you,” serve as a wistful acknowledgment of the undeniable, yet perhaps unfortunate, rekindling of old feelings. It’s as if, despite everything, the heart refuses to listen to reason, leading the characters back into a love that’s both familiar and fraught with emotional peril.

“The Alcott” is a beautifully melancholic ballad that captures the essence of struggling against the current of one’s emotions, trying to reach a shore where love once flourished, only to find it’s not as it once was. Through its intricate storytelling and emotive delivery, The National and Taylor Swift weave a narrative that many can relate to – the bittersweet journey of letting go and holding on to love.

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