Welcome to "Behind the Lyrics" with Elise Chandler. Each week, I find a song that I feel is understated both musically and lyrically, and I analyze it through several critical lenses.
This week, I am looking towards another one of my favorite bands - Death Cab for Cutie. Besides their chill, laid-back sound, sure to relax even the angstiest teenager, I have always loved their lyrics. The imagery is beautiful, and I have always been able to relate.
The song we'll be looking at is "Gold Rush". It's been on the radio waves for a while now, and when their newest record Thank You for Today came out, I had already pre-ordered it and met the Amazon delivery guy at the door. I'm surprised my record player hasn't broken from the amount of listens I have given this album. However, even with all the beautiful tracks on this album, "Gold Rush" stands out to me the most for a few reasons. I'm going to break it down using the lyrics.
1. "digging for gold in my neighborhood"
This phrase starts off the whole track, and it instantly grabs my attention because it isn't literal at all. We are not looking for money; we're looking for something that equates gold to the narrator -- memories. In a culture that is so novelty-focused, it is refreshing to be hit with something so real, and it is transparent right off the bat.
2. "I remember a winter's night
(Gold rush) we kissed beneath the street lamp light
(Gold rush) outside our bar near the record store
(Gold rush) that have been condos for a year and more
(Gold rush) now that our haunts have taken flight
(Gold rush) and been replaced with construction sites
(Gold rush) oh, how I feel like a stranger here
(Gold rush) searching for something that's disappeared"
Here, we get just enough detail to put together one significant memory for the narrator. A wonderful memory of love that he is having a hard time piecing together because all the physical evidence has been replaced by something with no feeling. Music is equated with passion while condos are equated with newness (for a year or more). He adds on explaining how he feels like a stranger. There is nothing nor anyone to remember him and his memories. What if they are all made up? What if he doesn't matter anymore?
3. "digging for gold in my neighborhood
(Gold rush) for what they say is the greater good
(Gold rush) but all I see is a long goodbye
(Gold rush) a requiem for a skyline
(Gold rush) it seems I never stopped losing you
(Gold rush) as every dive becomes something new
(Gold rush) and all our ghosts get swept away
(Gold rush) it didn't used to be this way"
Once again, our narrator starts out emphasizing that he is trying to see the "gold" in the neighborhood. Especially the gold that others say is doing the "greater good". However, all he sees is the physical reminders and memories being shoved aside for the new world. He even mentions "it didn't used to be this way". It is true. Look back even thirty years ago. People would try to save and cherish things because they mattered. However now, we can't wait until the next new phone or tv or gadget comes out, so we can get rid of our old "worthless" one. This leaves us to wonder -- if we treat stuff like this, how do we treat each other as we age and all the knowledge and memories we hold?
4. "(Please don't change)"
This line here just makes my heart hurt. Of course, change is not always a bad thing, but it does appear that our culture is moving so fast and so intensely that we are forgetting that some things are just wonderful the imperfect way they are. They are HUMAN.
Many bands are looking at this idea of things being human, and this imperfection makes us the complex, wondrous beings we are. As a passionate reader and music appreciator, I appreciate any push-back music provides to the status quo. If we do not question, how do we improve? Questioning and looking for beauty in the dark are difficult but important skills, but isn't that what good music does? Until next time.