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The student news site of Hollis Brookline High School

The CavChron

The student news site of Hollis Brookline High School

The CavChron

I Will Follow You into the Dark: Just as Poignant 8 Years Later

Deep Ghosh
A shot of Death Cab performing live in 2008. (deep ghosh, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

If you’ve never heard the chilling first few acoustic chords that lead into one of the most meaningful songs ever made, you need to.

“I Will Follow You Into The Dark” is the band, Death Cab For Cutie’s, most listened-to song on Spotify, and it’s not hard to see why after even just a casual listen to it. The chords strummed blend beautifully with the singer’s haunting vocals, the simplicity of it all just adding to the overarching feeling of sadness and loss that permeates the whole track. Even without knowledge of what the lyrics are, it’s impossible to not feel introspective purely due to the tone of the song. Ben Gibbard’s, the lead singer of the band, the vocal style is perfect for the dark lyrics that convey themes of loss, trauma, and grief while still retaining an edge of hope. The feel of the song is immediately set by the first few lyrics of the song “Love of mine, someday you will die, but I’ll be close behind.” These lyrics instantly set the timeless topic for the rest of the song: love and loss; along with the feelings associated with those issues. 

The inherently flawed nature of an acoustic guitar works really well with the song, making it sound raw and simplistic. If you listen close enough, you can hear every slight mistake and misstep made in the soft strums of the guitar, adding to the feeling that the singer is pouring out his emotions without care for how imperfect they may be.

Going into a deeper analysis of the lyrics, it sounds as if the singer is comforting his dying partner, assuring them that they’re not alone and that he will follow them no matter what. “If heaven and hell decide that they both are satisfied, illuminate the ‘no’s’ on their vacancy signs” is the main part of the chorus; according to Genius, these lyrics draw a comparison between the afterlife and cheap hotels, both the good and bad place denying them entry by saying that there no vacancies for them. 

This is all ignoring one of the main themes of the song: religion. This entire chorus hinges on that first word, “if”; the singer is doubting that these ideals of heaven and hell even exist and even if they don’t and whatever comes after is completely unknowable and terrifying, he will still follow them into whatever it is.

 Staying on the topic of religion, after the first chorus, the following lyrics are “In catholic school, as vicious as roman rule; I got my knuckles bruised, by a lady in black. I held my tongue, as she told me, ‘son, fear is the heart of love,’ so I never went back.” These lyrics are direct references to how punishment was handed out in catholic schools in the 80’s and 90’s. Although mostly phased out today, many nuns back then would use corporal punishment on the kids, rapping their knuckles and wrists with a ruler anytime they acted out of what the acceptable behavior was. 

The last lyrics there show how the singer abandoned religion, hence the “if ” in the chorus, after being told that the only true way to love someone or something was based on a fear of said person or thing, a sentiment he clearly disagrees with. In fact, it seems as if he thinks almost the exact opposite, wanting to be with his partner in their final moments, despite the fear he feels for what comes after, not because of it. 

Everyone interprets songs differently, so everyone should go listen to the song themselves and draw their own conclusions on its meaning. It could mean something completely different to every listener than what it does to me or even the singer himself. So, go listen to it and enjoy it yourself, you won’t regret it.

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About the Contributor
Nicolas Gonazalez
Nicolas Gonazalez, Staff Writer
Nicolas Gonzalez, Class Of ‘24, is a first year journalism student (so curb your expectations) who looks forward to writing any variety of pieces. They are mainly looking forward to branching out into writing non-fiction articles.  Gonzalez just moved here from Florida to Brookline. Outside of school, Gonzalez enjoys playing games with online friends and going out to thrift shop. Most of their time outside of school however, is spent either sleeping or at work.

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