I Will Follow You into the Dark
|"I Will Follow You into the Dark"|
|Single by Death Cab for Cutie|
|from the album Plans|
|Released||June 26, 2006|
|Format||7", CD single|
|Recorded||Spring 2005 at Long View Farm in North Brookfield, MA|
|Genre||Indie pop, acoustic rock|
|Death Cab for Cutie singles chronology|
"I Will Follow You into the Dark" is a song by Death Cab for Cutie and the third single from their fifth album Plans. It is a solo, acoustic ballad written and performed by frontman Ben Gibbard and was recorded in monaural with a single microphone and little editing. The song details the singer's promise to a loved one to remain by her side even after death. Two music videos—one appearing on Directions: The Plans Video Album—have been made to the song. Although it was one of their lowest-charting singles peaking number 28 on the Modern Rock Tracks chart compared to "Soul Meets Body" and "I Will Possess Your Heart" at number 5 and number 6 respectively and failing to hit the Billboard Hot 100 chart where the other 2 singles charted, it is often seen as the band's most popular hit to date, being seen as their signature song as far as sales go, making "I Will Follow You into the Dark" their best-selling single to date. The song is notable for one of its verses critical of the Roman Catholic Church.
Concept and creation
When Ben Gibbard, nearing age 29, wrote "I Will Follow You into the Dark", he had never lost anyone really special in his life. Growing older during an ideal and comfortable time of his life led him to begin obsessing over death, the afterlife, and the weight of his relationships. He started to take stock of the importance of the people in his life and felt a need to say something about it. He wrote the song to deal with his problems of focusing on life by expanding his scope to include death and what comes afterward.
It's just this idea that what if somebody dies and we're just floating, just stumbling around in infinite darkness, and I'm just trying to find some kind of spiritual kind of peace with myself, and the world.—Ben Gibbard
While tracking the vocals for a different song, technical issues arose with one of the headphones. Producer and guitarist Chris Walla told Gibbard to take a break while the issues were being addressed. Gibbard picked up his Stella guitar and began playing "I Will Follow You into the Dark", originally planned to be recorded later in the sessions. Gibbard's playing was still going through the vocal microphone while playing, and Walla was impressed by the sound, leading him to suggest they do a quick tracking of the performance. It was this mono recording that appears on the album Plans, with the only editing being mild compression and de-essing. Due to the impromptu nature of the recording, the vocals are much louder than the guitar, and you can also hear Gibbard breathing in the beginning of the song.
The main music video features Ben Gibbard playing the song while sitting on his bed when he notices a hole in the wooden floor. Gibbard goes about daily activities while avoiding the constantly expanding hole. He eventually rolls out of bed into it, hanging on by his fingertips before finally letting go, only to land on solid ground within the void about as deep as his height, unharmed. The song ends with Gibbard walking into the darkness. The camera then pans to show the entire room again with the floor restored to its original, intact state. This music video was filmed in Romania and was directed by Jamie Thraves.
An alternative video directed by Monkmus appears on the band's DVD Directions: The Plans Video Album. In this video, a picture-book takes up the center of the video frame, and the pages turn as the song progresses. Within the book, two rabbits meet and fall in love. Time passes until one of the rabbits apparently dies. There are other references to death throughout the video, such as a rotten bowl of fruit and an elderly man who appears to die, leaving his grandson behind. The video ends with a picture of the two rabbits together, presumably in eternal happiness together.
"I Will Follow You into the Dark" has two separate United Kingdom-exclusive, colored vinyl 7" releases with B-sides recorded as part of the band's Rolling Stone originals session. The part-one release is printed on teal vinyl with "Photobooth" from The Forbidden Love EP as the B-side, and the part-two release is printed on clear orange vinyl with a B-side of "Brothers on a Hotel Bed". The CD single was also only released in the UK and contains the same "Brothers on a Hotel Bed" B-side.
Critical response to "I Will Follow You into the Dark" was generally positive. In their reviews for the album Plans, Robert Christgau selected the song as his "choice cut", Pitchfork Media called it the album's "quiet centerpiece" and praised its "unexpected turns of phrase", PopMatters called it "one of the best written pop songs of the year – if not of the past five years", and Tiny Mix Tapes stated that it was "one of the band’s best songs to date." Rolling Stone however, said that the song "demonstrates how wise Gibbard is to let the band mess with his pristine melodies, which would sound wispy and ignorable on their own."
The song was nominated for the 2007 Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals, but lost to "My Humps" by The Black Eyed Peas. By being nominated in this category, instead of for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance, it credited the entire band for Gibbard's solo performance.
Usage in the media
This song was also used in the Scrubs episode "My Last Words", while J.D. and Turk are spending time with a terminal patient named George Valentine. It was also the title of an episode of Grey's Anatomy in the fifth season, originally airing on March 12, 2009. It was also featured on the soundtrack of the 2007 remake of the film, The Invisible, and again in the 2008 television series 90210 in the episode "That Which We Destroy". It was also used in the 2011 Nikita episode "Into the Dark", of which it was also the namesake. It was also used in the 2011 film Friends With Benefits. A film named after the song starring Mischa Barton is also planned for release. An instrumental version of the song was also featured on the movie "Crazy, Stupid, Love." The song was also used for the end credits of Mike Birbiglia's Netflix comedy special My Girlfriend's Boyfriend.
|UK Singles Chart||66|
|U.S. Billboard Hot Modern Rock Tracks||28|
- Amanda Palmer of The Dresden Dolls recorded a cover of the song during the recording sessions for Who Killed Amanda Palmer. It appears on the limited edition 'Alternate Tracks' release as well as a Brainwashed Records compilation entitled 'Peace (for mom)'. She also performed the song at a concert held in Vancouver, Canada on a tour in November 2011 for what would become the album An Evening With Neil Gaiman & Amanda Palmer, in tribute to the overdose death of a young woman at Occupy Vancouver two days earlier.
- Canadian singer Amy Millan recorded a cover of the song. An audio sample can be heard on her official MySpace page.
- Bluegrass band Cadillac Sky recorded a cover of the song and is included on the band’s self-produced EP/CD, Weary Angel.
- Andrew Belle recorded a cover of the song on his Sundays at Rockit album.
- Stewart Francke released a cover of the song on the album Heartless World, which he made available for free download on his website after the death of Clarence Clemons, along with the song "Summer Soldier (Holler If Ya Hear Me)" featuring Bruce Springsteen.
- Everclear covered this song on their Return to Santa Monica album.
- Bayside (band) covered this song on the Bayside/I Am the Avalanche limited edition EP, only distributed during the tour.
- American singer-songwriter Matt Simons covered the song in his debut album Pieces and is the only cover song on the album with the other 9 tracks all Simons' compositions.
- California singer-songwriter-guitarist Julianna Zachariou covered the song on her 2011 debut album Tell Tell Tell. It is the only cover song on the album; the other 11 tracks are originals.
- Caroline Glaser, The Voice USA 2013 Alumni, recorded a cover of the song on her 2013 EP called "Caroline Glaser, Vol. 1". It is one of the only 3 songs on her first EP; the other 2 tracks are originals.
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- Tangari, Joe. "Plans album review". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 2008-11-24.
- McDermott, Ryan. "Plans album review". PopMatters. Retrieved 2008-11-24.
- "Plans album review". Tiny Mix Tapes. Retrieved 2008-11-24.[dead link]
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- "49th Annual Grammy Awards Winners List". Grammy. Retrieved 2008-12-15.
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- "Death Cab For Cutie - I Will Follow You Into The Dark - Music Charts". αCharts. Retrieved 2008-12-15.
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- "Peace (for mom)". Brainwashed.com. 2008-03-06. Retrieved 2013-10-18.
- "Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman give fans their money's worth in Vancouver". straight.com. 2011-11-07. Retrieved 2014-01-09.
- "Occupy Vancouver death dooms protest camp". CBC.ca. 2011-11-05. Retrieved 2014-01-09.
- "Amy Millan | Free Music, Mixes, Tour Dates, Photos, Videos". Myspace.com. 2013-05-06. Retrieved 2013-10-18.