The Center Won't Hold

Album: The Center Won't Hold (2019)
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Songfacts®:

  • Over a light beat, Carrie Brownstein delivers an agonizing message of existential despair.

    Everyone I know is tired
    Everyone I know is wired
    To machines, it's obscene
    I'll just scream 'til it don't hurt no more


    Brownstein explained: "In this song, a woman's desire is used against her, so she turns it into a sinister infectiousness. The narrator finds herself on the brink of self-annihilation, grappling with the paradox of an internal darkness at odds with the pressure to outwardly perform modes of joy, relatability, and likability."
  • The song title references part of W. B. Yeats' poem "The Second Coming."

    Things fall apart; the center cannot hold
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world


    The lines were widely quoted during the 2016 election of Donald Trump.
  • Written in the era of Trump and Brexit, The Center Won't Hold references the political tensions of the late 2010s. Brownstein and her bandmate Corin Tucker also allude to a more personal dissociation. "The themes on this record are about people who feel fraught and unsteady, but they are seeking ways to find strength," Brownstein explained to Q magazine. "[The title track] really spoke to that dichotomy. It tied into how things feel culturally, politically and emotionally."
  • Uncut magazine asked Carrie Brownstein if as seems increasingly like the center won't hold, what do we do? She replied: "We've existed for so long with this top-down leadership, and obviously there's been a lot of dismantling and reconsideration of whether that works for everyone, but so clearly it doesn't, because these systems of hierarchy ferment injustice and subjugation. I think while we do exist in this perennial uncertainty, which is excruciatingly uncomfortable. I sometimes wonder whether in the breaking apart of the center perhaps we won't find multitudes and if they are connected and in conversation, if that went be a better way of going forward."
  • Asked for a one line sentence that summarizes The Center Won't Hold album, Carrie Brownstein told Q Magazine: "The Center Won't Hold is a rumination on anger and despair that seeks connection as a form of hope."

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