- Michael Shields
This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast presents an interview with author Ryan Pinkard, a music journalist from Denver, Colorado. Pinkard is the author of the new 33 1/3 book, Boxer, which is the focus of this episode. Boxer is a comprehensive and enlightening oral history of the band that traces The National’s early career and struggles, culminating in the creation of their watershed album. He has just begun work on his second book for 33 1/3’s new Genre series, in which he’ll explore the ethereal genre of Shoegaze. We all know the story of the Boxer. That grisly, bruised American allegory of a fighter who somehow gets up more times than he’s knocked down. Pinkard’s 33 1/3 book, Boxer, chronicles the fight that nearly broke The National but turned out to be the one that allowed them to become champions. Released in 2007, The National’s fourth full-length album is the masterpiece that veritably saved them. For fans, Boxer is a profound personal meditation on the unmagnificent lives of adults, an elegant culmination of their sophisticated songwriting, and the first National album many fell in love with. For the band, Boxer symbolizes an obsession, a years-long struggle, a love story, a final give-it-everything-you’ve-got effort to keep their fantasy of being a real rock band alive. Based on extensive original interviews with the fighters who were in the ring and the spectators who witnessed it unfold, Pinkard obsessively reconstructs a transformative chapter in The National’s story, revealing how the Ohio-via-Brooklyn five-piece found the sound, success, and spiritual growth to evolve into one of the most critically acclaimed bands of their time. In this episode host Michael Shields and Ryan Pinkard dive deeply into what made Boxer such a game-changing album for The National while exploring the challenges and pressures the band faced while working on bringing the album to life. They discuss the importance of lead singer Matt Berninger’s wife Carin becoming his lyric writing partner during the Boxer sessions and how that has shaped the band to this day. They converse upon the political climate of the day that inspired the album’s essence and, ultimately, they ruminate on what Boxer means to the band’s legacy and to their enduring success.
Grab a copy of The National’s Boxer 33 ⅓ by Ryan Pinkard here!