Actual Original Content!
Back by a Wave of Staid Disinterest:
The Song of the Week!
This week….Death Cab for Cutie’s “I Will Follow You Into the Dark”
First let me begin by saying that this won’t be easy. I’m not a Death Cab fan. I resent their music. I resent their influence. I very nearly hate their fans. I prefer my rock bands with, um, at least a capacity for rock; I prefer my rock songs with at least a hint of energy; and I take my lyrics a solid dose of self-awareness. For these reasons and more (just look at that picture and tell me those guys don’t drink Zima), I ain’t on the Death Cab bandwagon. I’m not steering the back. I’m not even at the parade.
And that’s why I begrudgingly include them in my Songs of the Week. Occasionally a tepid band writes an undeniably great song, and “I Will Follow You Into the Dark” is the type of brilliance even the most rabid antifans can’t–or shouldn’t–deny.
Although the song is lyrically intensive, it begins with the full musical cadence, calling attention to the most important aspects of the chord progression. This sets the foundation for the song’s truly remarkable lyric, a loose narrative that works more closely around a single conceit than an extended metaphor or even isolated imagery. At its core, the song is about a relationship’s struggle with selflessness and codependency. The refrain–“I will follow you into the dark”–is a statement of courage and tremendous anxiety, as though our narrative voice is committed to living any life, good or bad, with this woman. That trepidation is underscored by a brief shift to minor mode on “follow you,” before finally resolving on the tonic at “dark.” That single musical phrase embodies the song’s conflict: is anything the “right thing” if it has a potentially worse outcome?
The one deviation from the song’s basic structure comes at the end of the final verse: “We’ll hold each other soon/In the blackest of rooms.” At “rooms,” the melody sails into falsetto, triumphant yet wavering; he’s made his decision, but he’s not sure it’s for the best.
The success of the song lies in the simplicity of the melody, the careful composition of the chord progression, and the multi-dimensionality of the lyric–at once profoundly sad, darkly humorous, inventive, and winningly good-natured.
Vicious as Roman rule,