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Death Cab For Cutie - I Will Follow You into the Dark

When I was thinking about my brother's death and how to address it in a blog entry (8/20), I kept coming back to the Death Cab for Cutie Song I Will Follow You into the Dark off their latest album Plans. I wanted to include a discussion of the song in that post, but thought that it deserved it's own entry.

I included the lyrics below for anyone who's not familar with the song. It is quite a beautiful acoustic song, apparently done in one take, where the singer is comforting someone about an impending death, letting them know that they aren't alone. It's very familar in subject to the Johnny Cash song Will You Meet me in Heaven.

I thought a lot about what the singer was trying to say. Is it for someone who is afraid to die and the singer is letting them know that their hearts are linked and that they won't be alone, even in death? Or, one could almost read the song as a suicide pact: If you go, so will I so that you won't be alone. Given DCFC's heavy Emo fan base, this song will probably be playing at a lot of funerals of young people who have died tragically or through suicide. DCFC discussion boards and the video really didn't offer any insight on the song.

However, I took a different take on the song. To me the song is about depression. People with depression talk about the fear of being alone, of not being accepted, and that bouts of depression are many times described as entering the "dark." This song is for those people, its telling them you're not alone....I am there with you, I will follow you in the dark, I will go whereever you go to let you know that you are loved. Even if heaven and hell won't accept you, I will. A pretty powerful message to send to anyone depressed or considering suicide.

What do you think this song is about?

I Will Follow You Into The Dark
Love of mine some day you will die
But I'll be close behind
I'll follow you into the dark

No blinding light or tunnels to gates of white
Just our hands clasped so tight
Waiting for the hint of a spark
If heaven and hell decide
That they both are satisfied
Illuminate the no's on their vacancy signs

If there's no one beside you
When your soul embarks
Then I'll follow you into the dark

In Catholic school as vicious as Roman rule
I got my knuckles brusied by a lady in black
And I held my toungue as she told me
"Son fear is the heart of love"
So I never went back

If heaven and hell decide
That they both are satisfied
Illuminate the no's on their vacancy signs

If there's no one beside you
When your soul embarks
Then I'll follow you into the dark

You and me have seen everything to see
From Bangkok to Calgary
And the soles of your shoes are all worn down
The time for sleep is now
It's nothing to cry about
Cause we'll hold each other soon
The blackest of rooms

If heaven and hell decide
That they both are satisfied
Illuminate the no's on their vacancy signs

If there's no one beside you
When your soul embarks
Then I'll follow you into the dark
Then I'll follow you into the dark


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Sweet song, that one. I kind of see it as a statement of humanism over supernaturalism. In other words, "It doesn't matter what supernatural judgements may or may not come. We will be together and support each other, and that will be enough."

That is a good song. We're going to use it for my brother's funeral. I think the song is about not being alone, that if no one else will be with them, you will. Probably when there's the question of suicide.. or no question at all.

Hey... not trying to promote my blog by any means, but I think I can relate to what you're talking about. Check my URL and leave a comment if you wish.

I love this song. It's a beautifully played and written song. Ben Gillard is a genius. It describes death in such a peaceful way that no other song has been able to do.

DCFC = love!

This song makes me feel things that I keep hidden. I feel lost and desperate. I have always been afraid of being the last person in my family to pass. I fear being left alone dependant on the kindness of strangers. I wonder if God intends to keep me here watching those I love pass away so that I can ease their fear that they will be loved..to their end. I wonder am I good enough for that. My maturity level does not match my years when it comes to the cycle of life. I have a block in understanding. This is a beautiful song and I have never had a reaction to song like I do this one. The video tears me up. To me the song means I love you and will be with you when you need me..no matter what.

Although I find the lyrics poetic, this song seems to give the OK to taking one's life in order to stay connected to someone who dies. I find it disturbing because it is so catchy, the tune, that it sounds very sweet and supportive, but I think it may give the wrong message to people who are already struggling with life. If there were additional lyrics indicating that one would in time follow into the dark I would be more supportive of it.

i don't think it's about suicide at all, it's a love song....

for better or worse
for richer or poorer
forever & ever

i love this song so much. i have recently dealed with a loved persons death, and ive been really sad. but i love this song because its true, i feel this way.

this song means alot to me, and brings up times that i will never forget.

This song is about suicide, the fact that it asks, "if heaven and hell decide" indicate that as long as he is judged fairly on the supernatural standards despite suicide, then he will willingly kill himself for another. Also it says "catholic school as vicous as roman rule." In catholicism it is an instant ticket to hell if you commit suicide. I like the song, its just too bad that the song is about suicide.

This song really hit home. I'm dealing w/ my grandmother who has terminal cancer. This is the 1st death I've ever experienced. I can't stand the thought of life without her, but this song helped in knowing that things will be okay. I can see why people think the song's about suicide, but it's a song that he played for his grandmother when she had terminal cancer. The lead singer sang it while she was in her death bed.

hey, i love this song! i head some of you mention a video?? where could i find that!? id love to see it. i found one on youtube.com, but this computer doesnt support flashplayer, thus i cant watch it. any ideas??

I really enjoy all the comments on this song. It truly is a moving song open to interpretation. The comments above prove that.

As for the video -- try the DCFC website or videos on Yahoo.

its a very poetic song. i think depression is a negative take on it. i view it more as a love song.

Beautiful lyrics, but wide open to an co-dependent/obsessive interpretation.

Is it better to be loved or feared? -Machiavelli

Love is fear-Death Cab Song

Wrong: attachment is fear. Love is selfless.

I don't get these meanings at all on this. I don't think it's depression or suicide.

If husband just heard news that wife had terminal cancer, how does he console her? What does she feel inside? Even if she's religious, how does she really know what is beyond... if anything? Is she scared of going?

What more can a husband say besides, "you go and I'll go to" I'll follow you is not instant take-my-own-life action like Romeo and Juliet. I'll follow you is, "my fate is like yours". I'll be with you is one of the most comforting things a person can hear.

This is permission from a husband to allow his wife to pass. Often it is the living that will not *let* the dying go. This is about Love.

I use a husband and wife, but it could be parent and child. How does a parent tell a child that it's OK to go?

This is one of the most beautiful and gentle songs I've ever heard. Nothing more.

I just heard this song on the radio and I was thinking about my little boy, he's 7 years old, who has lately become concerned about death and dying, about separation between us. In that way, it's a comforting song because it eases the fear of separation.

When I think about the lyrics, though, what I imagine is that the author had a conversation about "life after death" -- the 'what's going to happen when we die' -- and maybe that turned into a really heavy conversation -- what if there is no heaven or hell, no where to 'go' to -- maybe he was trying to meet minds with an atheist or an agnostic who he also cares very much about?

Regardless of specifics -- it really is a beautiful song about the most universal of human experiences.

I agree that, though I see how it could easily be interpreted as about suicide, it is about love. I prefer to interpret it as comforting to someone who is dealing with an impending death. I don't think it implies that the singer is planning on commiting suicide to stay with their loved one, but rather promising to meet them in the afterlife (hence the "following"). I think it is especially sweet if you look at in the context of an elderly couple (yes, I know DCFC aren't old) promising to stay together (think The Notebook).

Hello, very good site.

You all have very good, thought provoking comments. I am enchanted by the song, but it hadn't occured to me that it may be about suicide. My interpretation was that it was a love song. If there's no heaven or hell to go to, who would YOU want to drift aimlessly through eternity with?

my fiancee' is terminal. I love her very much.. and see her fading..
she is on the other side of the world now,. and neither of us have any power. We can only wait...

Listen, I really enjoy this tune in a musical sense...great chord progression
and very catchy. However, one thing seems to be obvious to me and that is it assumes
there is no afterlife, rather only darkness. There is a very explicit
humanistic and existential theme in this song. In other words, there is nothing
that transcends us, there's only me and you. We've lived in this world, done
many things, traveled all over, so since we've exhausted all there is, it's ok to die now.
In addition, you see the writers disdain for Christianity in the third verse were he misquotes or misunderstands the biblical passage in Proverbs 1:7, "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge." Fear in this sense means reverence or respect, not being scared of.
Finally, this is about someone joining his loved one in an act of suicide is his loved one dies.
"If there's no one beside you when your sould embarks, THEN I WILL follow you into the dark." Even if it's not time for him to die? Or would you try telling me that he could possibly follow a dead person into the dark without himself dying?

I just heard this yesterday and thought the music was incredibly beautiful. I believed that it is about suicide. However, I appreciate all the other interpretations above and I will relisten.

this song is quite the opposite of death it's telling its audience not to fear life and to hhold on to the most deepest inner grudges.....keep commiting suicide cuz it works....it certainly did for me

i just heard/saw that song for the first time today...it's so beautiful and sad...my boyfriend committed suicide 2 weeks ago and i have to say,that i find this song very comforting...i know,he would have loved it

During the first days after my dear's sudden death, I wanted to follow him into the dark. Of course I won't, not for many years. Bangkok, Calgary - we know both well and travelling together was the joy of our lives. This song makes my tears flow and I listen to it over and over.

my grandmother's heart stopped 2 hours after we found out my grandfather had 6 weeks to live. he died 2 weeks later, and this song is so perfectly fit to th esituation

I had a friend die a year and a half ago. Not by sucide, by a boating accident. He was a young teen in my community and you could feel the lost through out every one. His very best friend and I now sing this song for family and friends and soon at shows and every time i hear myself sing it or my friend start to play we both get the biggest tears in our eyes. This song, I believe, is about being linked forever through the love and expirences you went through in life. I believe that DCFC was trying to show that love is the greatest thing you can share in life, and that is what i believe. I love you Ki and i will see you soon!

If heaven and hell were both closed, where will you go?
He doesn't know, but even so, he's willing to follow this person he loves.

He didn't really give a time frame, though. I haven't thought of it as him following immediately, like suicide.

He is not refering to the darkness being nothingness after death, he is referring to it as the unknown. Also the reason he talks about catholism is because they pretty much beleive that everyone goes to hell and its just a matter of how long you are there, he doesn't beleive this and thinks that love will keep two people together no matter where they go after this life, whether they make it to heaven or hell or somewhere that no one knows about he will be with her. I also don't think the song implies suicide i think it means that they will always be linked and he will find her no matter what when he dies. We all eventually follow the ones we love because death is a sure thing. And i agree that he is reassuring someone that they will never be alone because the love they shared together will link them together forever, its about love conquering even death.

nice post.....


Thank you for you're insight. I LOVE this song. I had no idea what the lyrics were when I first heard it but I was captivated none the less. After paying attention to the lyrics I love it even more.....

Winter - Bayside

good song

Hey this song is the long of all faith! The first time i went to one of my best freinds grandparent's house and say the video i like cry it was so said then the next i know i get a phone call at 6:30am that her grandparents house had burned down from lighting!! OMG right!! Its true!! Plus i will be haveing a bf soon once i go back to my other house for school and this i want to sing to him because it is soo true!!

I never thought of it that way. Now I see the song in a whole new perspective. I always liked it but I never really understood it- I always took it as a vow between lovers: if you die, I'll die, and I'll leave this world with you.

Now you've given me a whole new way to look at it, and I love this song so much more!

I feel this song is meaning "if you die a part of me will too" because he says "no blinding lights or tunnels to gates of white" so i thought that meant he actually wouldnt die literally....

just a thought?

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