The National – “Mr. November” aka Barack Obama?

As a companion piece to Gordon’s obsessive posting of campaign-related songs, I thought I would dig up a story from July of this year that was reported on several sites, including Pitchfork.  I’m fairly embarrassed that I had forgotten about this one, but it looks like I’ll be able to get it in just under the wire before election day.

I absolutely love the band The National.  Their last two albums have been about as close to perfect as they could possibly get, and it’s really a toss up which one is better.  Alligator and Boxer routinely duke it out for space in my CD player, and I think I have both records in their entirety on my iPod, so yeah, I like them just a little. 

In July, The National apparently had a secret meeting in the basement of their brains and decided to take the title of one of their greatest songs from Alligator, “Mr. November,” and slap it and Obama’s face onto a t-shirt, promising to donate all proceeds from the sale of said shirts to Obama’s campaign. 

“Mr. November,” while a great song, seems like an odd choice to apply to a candidate that you support.  My interpretation of the song has always been that of someone who has shown greatness in the past but has slipped or may be past their prime.  There are constant reassurances “I won’t fuck us over, I’m Mr. November” and “I used to be carried in the arms of cheerleaders.”  This person is asking the listener to trust in his ability to pull out a win, while all the while indicating that he himself is not so sure of his abilities with lines like “The English are waiting and I don’t know what to do” and “I wish that I believed in fate, I wish I didn’t sleep so late.”  I’ve also heard that the song is actually about the pressures of recording and finishing an album, so this may all be moot.

I don’t know what the logic was behind it.  Maybe The National were trying to make a sly statement, or maybe they didn’t even think about it that way.  Or maybe they just meant Barack is Mr. November because they think he’s going to win… in November.  Am I the only person that’s thought about this?


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