Walk It Back

Album: Sleep Well Beast (2017)
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  • This song started out with the title of "Roman Candle," and was first performed by The National at the Troubadour, Los Angeles on October 16, 2015. It was renamed as "Checking Out of a Collapsing Space (Roman Candle)" the following year before finally being recorded for Sleep Well Beast as "Walk It Back."

    The lyrics have been changed too, since its original incarnation. The final version uses a collapsing relationship as a metaphor for the United States under President Donald Trump.
  • The song features a long spoken-word passage, which comes from a 2004 New York Times Magazine piece about the George W. Bush administration penned by Ron Suskind. The quote was originally attributed to an anonymous "senior adviser to Bush," before being identified as Bush's advisor Karl Rove. However, when Newsweek's Zach Schonfeld asked Rove what he thought of the National's use of the quote, he denied the association:

    "Not familiar with the band and the quote is fictitious," he said. "The only person in the room who supposedly heard this quote was the 'reporter' - none of the other people in the room heard anything like it, including its supposed author (me)."
  • The song's music clip was directed by American artist Casey Rea, who was a member of a band called 'Nancy' with Scott Devendorf and Matt Berninger, before they became members of The National. This was the fourth video he directed for the band in support of Sleep Well Beast.

    The visual, which was released on the one-year anniversary of Donald Trump's inauguration, combines clips of several notable political events – such as Ronald Reagan's State of the Union address and speeches by Newt Gingrich, Bill Clinton and Karl Rove – to dramatize "the performance and spectacle of governance."

    "It captures the pomp and rituals of Congress and its vainglorious, televised culture," said Reas of the video.
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