Rylan

Album: I Am Easy to Find (2019)
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Songfacts®:

  • "Rylan" dates back to The National's sessions for 2010's High Violet. Though a fan favorite, the band had never included it on disc until their I Am Easy to Find album. That record is a joint project with director Mike Mills, who invited the band to collaborate on both a short film and a record. Guitarist Aaron Dessner told Pitchfork:

    "It's had this weird life outside any album. It's both a combination of us never making a compelling recording of it and it never fitting anywhere thematically. To Mike, it represented the childlike elements of the film's character, so we finally felt like we had a reason to try to finish 'Rylan' - but it was by far the hardest song to record."
  • The song benefited from Mike Mills' benignly disruptive input. "The new arrangement of 'Rylan' was something we really tried out with Mike," guitarist Bryce Dessner told Uncut. "The reason the song is very different from the way we used to play it live is partly with Mike's feedback trying to find a new character for that song - a new arrangement, a new juxtaposition of what the instruments are doing. He's trial-and-error, really radical."
  • Mills originally had a problem with the song's ending, commenting to Pitchfork: "It's so sad, so why does it get so triumphant?"

    The National kept working on the tune and finally Mills came to the realization "that it was some kind of conscious - or unconscious - love letter to all the people who have loved their music for so long."
  • Taylor Swift is a big fan of The National and included this song and "Light Years" on a May 2019 playlist of Songs I'm Loving Right Now. A year later, she reached out to Aaron Dessner and asked if he wanted to collaborate. The pair eventually worked together on 11 of the 16 tracks on her 2020 Folklore album.

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