"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."