With ‘Gold Rush,’ Death Cab for Cutie Laments the Loss of Cities to Rapid Change

Posted on: August 16th, 2018 at 5:04 am by

Two months ago, Death Cab for Cutie released a single called “Gold Rush.” The catchy track, which revolves around a Yoko Ono sample, focuses on a subject matter that hits close to home – the effects of rapid change on a neighborhood.

Death Cab leadman, Ben Gibbard, confessed upon its release that he penned the composition based on the hyper-gentrification in his hometown of twenty years, the Seattle neighborhood of Capitol Hill. Written as “a requiem for a skyline,” the song explores similar themes. “They’re digging for gold in my neighborhood,” it starts, then segues into talk of the “swinging of a wrecking ball”; or a kiss shared outside near a record store that’s “been condos for a year or more.”

“As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become acutely aware of how I connect my memories to my geography and [how] the landscape of the city changes,” Gibbard told NPR in a recent interview. “I’ll walk down Broadway and walk past a location that used to be a bar I’d frequent with friends, or somewhere where I had a beautifully intense conversation with somebody that I once loved very much.”

While “Gold Rush” is based on the city of Seattle, it could easily have been written about the vanishing Lower East Side.

Below are a few lyrical stanzas from “Gold Rush” which seem most appropriate. It appears on the LP, Thank You for Today, due out tomorrow via Atlantic Records.

They’re digging for gold in my neighborhood
Where all the old buildings stood
And they keep digging it down and down
So that their cars can live underground
The swinging of a wrecking ball
Through these lathe and plaster walls
Is letting all the shadows free
The ones I wished still followed me

I remember a winter’s night
When we kissed beneath the street lamp light
Outside our bar near the record store
That have been condos for a year or more
And now that our haunts have taken flight
And been replaced with construction sites
Oh, how I feel like a stranger here
Searching for something that’s disappeared

They’re digging for gold in my neighborhood
For what they say is the greater good
But all I see is a long goodbye
A requiem for a skyline
It seems I never stop losing you
As every dive becomes something new
And all our ghosts get swept away
It didn’t used to be this way

Change
(Be this way, be this way)
Please don’t change
Stay
(Be this way, be this way)
Stay the same

Cranes
(Be this way, be this way)
Devour the light
Strange
(Be this way, be this way)
Appetites

Recent Stories

Another Look at the Remodeled DeSalvio Playground in Little Italy

Two years of construction, and a decade of advocating, finally let up. About a month ago, Little Italy locals scored early access to a reinvigorated DeSalvio Playground on Spring Street ahead of the “official” opening. The upgraded park at Spring and Mulberry Streets includes a curved seating area with benches, basketball court (with two hoops), jungle gym […]

Report: Teen Boosts Taxi from LES and Attempts Drive to Six Flags

If you’re gonna steal the car, don’t pull over for R-and-R. Police say that 19-year-old Jonathan Gualpa boosted a taxicab parked on the Lower East Side early Tuesday morning and attempted to drive it down to Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey. The vehicle was reportedly still running at 5:45am when the teen hijacker drove […]

Neighborhood Group Sues the City to Stop New Towers in Two Bridges

Three months after first leveling the threats, the Lower East Side Organized Neighbors (LESON) has filed a lawsuit to stop four new towers (as part of three developments) from sprouting on the Two Bridges waterfront. The community organization partnered with the Asian American Legal Defense Fund to take the fight to the city. LESON has […]

Man Hit in the Head with Baseball Bat, Robbed on Broome Street

Some crime to report on the new doorstep of Essex Crossing. A man on the eastern fringe of Broome Street was clocked in the head with a baseball bat, and then robbed of his computer, police said. The victim was apparently on his way to a date Monday afternoon when he was struck on the […]

Martin Keehn Boutique Celebrates New Home on Ludlow Street

Menswear designer Martin Keehn began selling on the Lower East Side nine years ago. The boutique occupied a unique fractional address across from Seward Park – 27 1/2 Essex Street – until last summer. The eponymous store made the move around the corner to 53 Ludlow Street back in August. (This was the former home […]