In 2005 The National recorded a song "Karen
" about Carin Besser. At the time Berninger protected his wife's innocence by changing the name. However, in this instance he uses her real name. Berninger explained to The Line Of Best Fit
"The reason I used Carin's real name was because we had a song on Alligator
called 'Karen', and because of that, everybody's called her Karen her whole life. It's actually 'kah-ryn', and I wanted people to know that, finally. She didn't want me to put that in there, but it was important to me.
Like I said, she's so much a part of my writing. Tom Waits writes with his wife, Kathleen Brennan, and I think he described the process as, 'she washes, I dry'. Well, our version is that I spill, I get the stain all over the clothes, and then I put it in the washer. Carin goes through it all, dries it, irons it and folds it. She's an editor and a writer herself, and I really mean it when I say that a lot of the best ideas are hers."