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

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