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I Will Follow You into the Dark by Death Cab for Cutie

Album: PlansReleased: 2005Charted:
66
  • In this song, the singer talks about his love for his girlfriend and how they will meet again after death, whether that is in heaven or hell. The lyrics contain hints of irony in the Catholic religion. (thanks, Gannon - somewhere, LA)
  • Frontman Ben Gibbard told VH1's Storytellers that he penned the song in a burst of creativity at a Seattle studio, which he kept solely for songwriting. "One day, I went to work, had my lunch all packed, because I bring my own lunch, and I sat down to attempt to write a song," he explained. "I wrote this next song in about 15 minutes and I kinda took my lunch and put it back in my bag and went home because I realized there was no point in working the rest of the day.
    When people ask me about this song, I never feel like I can claim that I wrote it because you should never be able to write a song in 15 minutes, because I feel like I channeled the song but I didn't necessarily write it. Thankfully, I was able to put my name on it."
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Comments: 38

My son Eric used to play this song a lot. When I would hear it I would ask him who sang it... I could never remember the group and didn't think too much about it until his sudden loss due to drowning at the age of 18. The night before his funeral we were trying to think of a song to play that would have a special meaning. This one came to mind and so we researched the words.As a mother I didn't think of it so much as a relationship type love song but that I would always love him. Ironically we had sent him to all Parochial schools and he had just told me how he wished he had gone to public school. The priest at his service was not too pleased but it will always remind me of my beautiful son. To the father who wrote about his son, I wish you strength.Candy - Buffalo, Ny
A few months ago my girlfriend told me to look up this song, and when I heard it I didn't think much of it. Then on the last day of the school year she broke up with me. Yesterday I remember her singing that song so I looked it up again on youtube with the lyrics and everything and it made me cry (I almost never cry). I told myself that even if we aren't together, I'm singing the song for her next school year at our talent show. Song means so much to me because I realized that I would have gone through anything with that girl even if it meant death.Christian - Kent, Wa
again regarding the second verse and the writers (and really everyones) take on love; 1 John 4:18 says, "there is no fear in love, but perfect love throws fear outside, because fear exercises a restraint. Indeed, he that is under fear has not been made perfect in love."Dorkybowtie - Fireless, Pa
Epic, beautiful, and enduring. Just a few words to describe this aweinspiring arrangement of music and lyrics. It touches your soul, and once it starts, you can't leave until it's over.
It's like, he's uncertain about his prospects after his death, but even though I'm unsure of my eternal fate, I'm sure of our love and that, in some form, we will be together, forever. Until the end of time, possibly even after.
The second verse is my favorite. About Catholic school.
"as she told me son/fear is the heart of love/so I never went back"
It's talking here of his perception of love. And to DannyO, or whatever, I am well versed in scripture and understand what you mean, but your view is a little twisted. Fear in the Bible mainly pertains to that of God, and a desire to please him in everything and observe his commandments. The emotion he sings of here is not even the same, at all. Completely different.
Anyways. the song is mysterious and calming at the same time, and unforgettable, as I believe it will ne'er depart from me as long as I live. Maybe longer. This song has, I believe, never failed to move a hearer of it's simple complexity, at least those possessing any measure of love for another, again in any form.
Dorkybowtie - Fireless, Pa
This is the ultimate love song. It makes me think of couples that are spontaneous and adventurous and in love. It's sort of a declaration from one person to the other of utter commitment that comes from their heart.Holden - Salt Lake City, Ut
I aspire to learn as many DCFC songs on guitar as I can. My dad taught me this one, and it means so much to me. The song itself is the perfect love song in my opinion. It's emotional, it says everything anyone would want to hear from a spouse or loved one.Holden - Salt Lake City, Ut
So the first time i heard this song i cried like never before. i really love this song with all my might. it means so much to me, since some of my very close family members died. I rerally believe that there is an after life and i know i will see them again when i die. its a very deep song i cry everytime i hear it. Its my favorite song!Midi - Houston, Tx
My 17 year old son Patrick played this song for me endlessly over the last couple years. His mother and I were divorced and every 2 weeks, my sons would visit. Always with this song. I took him to his concerts and my concerts and we had a great relationship through music. Patrick died at Christmas of 2008 of an accidental overdose. In his memory, and with a fathers love, I had this chorus placed on his cemetary marker. A.P. DerryTony - Pittsburgh, Pa
Seeing this song live was one of my most memorable concert moments. Just Ben on the chair with his guitar, singing, spotlight on him while the rest of the stage was dark.Kim - Wappingers Falls, Ny
this is, by far, my favorite song ever.
my boyfriend, who, is no longer with us, sang this to me, kind of ironic? yes.
anyway, like everyone else, i feel that this song is about a guy, that is so in love with a girl that he can't be away from her, even when she dies. i think he's talking about committing suicide or possibly mourning himself to death if she dies, and when that happens, he'll follow her into heaven, hell, or in they don't exist, he'll follow her into the dark.
in my case, im horrified of the dark, so when my boyfriend sang it, i think he was meaning that even if i was in the dark when i died, he'd be there to comfort me through it.
Samantha - Belington, Wv
I think this song may be about a girl who is going to die soon, or is fearing death, and this song is supposed to be reassurance to her, and he's letting her know, if you do die I'll be right with you. Even if you don't go to heaven or hell, or even if there's no such thing as them, I'll always be with you.Jordan - Crystal Lake, Il
This is the first song I ever heard from Death Cab For Cutie, and
will always my favorite (though I am a fan of their other songs now :D). In fact, when I'm asked my favorite song, this one is one of the first that pops into my head. Really, it's not a deep song, but it's simplicity is what makes it haunting and beautiful at the same time. It's definitely a song I can cry to (and I'm NOT a crier)

Anyways, my interpretation is like 99% of the population's here: it's about a guy singing to a girl about how they'll never part, even in death.
Becky - Sacramento, Ca
This is a very good song. It's not well known, but the lyrics are good.Krista - Carbondale, Pa
although the concept for this song is illustrated beautifully and the acoustic guitar is catchy but simultaneously incredibly eloquent,this is definetly not deathcabs best song, its up there in the top 10..top 5 depending on your individual taste of music, but songs such as styrofoam plates, what sarah said, transatlanticism, brothers on a hotel bed, we laugh indoors, and your new twin sized bed are also gorgeous songs that are more quality and mature, and although many people believe this song is overplayed, i dont think i could ever hear enough of itDoug - Ambler, Pa
I think the whole part about heaven and hell illuminating the NOs on their vacancy signs and him following her is kind of like saying, "If you die and both places are closed and you dont know what to do, I will be there to hold your hand."Aaron - Independence, Ks
k all hes saying is tht no matter wut they will both die and whether ther is a heaven or hell or just dark he will b by her sidePaco - Hell, Wi
Why is it hard to understand the "No vacancy" part of the song?

"If Heaven and Hell decide that they both are satisfied.." means if they realize they have enough people and don't need you...

"...illuminate the 'NOs' on their vacancy signs." means to simply light up the "NO" portion telling everyone they are full and won't be taking any more people- namely the subject of the song...
Joe - Crown Point, In
The writer of the song, I don't think he is meaning to insault christianity in anyway. I think like a lot of people are, he is confused. No religion is or can be proven, we use it as a sense of comfort. I think he is just meaning to say, if it is true, that there is something after this, that he will still be with her. And if there are "no vacancies" then there must not be anything. He is following her into the dark and generally when we enter a dark place, we don't usually know what is in there and sometimes we just need to take chances with it.Sarah - Fredericton, Nb
Good Song but not their best by far, not even the best on Plans.
I agree with Benjamin WA, overplayed, so everyone likes it.
Your Heart Is an Empty Room, and What Sarah said are better - in my opinion !
Phil - Newcastle Uk, United Kingdom
When it says, "Fear is the heart of love." It is talking about fear as like respect. The Bible says to "fear God" but it is more like a respectful fear because he is powerful. So fear may really be the heart of love.Dannyo - Hartselle, Al
About a year ago i showed this song to my mom and it made her cry because of how she thought it was one of the saddest song she had heard, but it auctuly is one of the best love songs written
"Love of mine some day you will die
But I'll be close behind"- this refers to how his love is so strong for his lover that he cant go on whit her.It showshow big of a part of his life that whit out her he see's no reason to go on
"No blinding light or tunnels to gates of white
Just our hands clasped so tight
Waiting for the hint of a spark"- He's saying he doesn't know what come after death but he's going going to be there and he's not letting go of her.
"If Heaven and Hell decide
That they both are satisfied
Illuminate the NOs on their vacancy signs" this talks about old hotels whit the sings out front whit the words "Vacancy" meaning they have rooms or "NO Vacancy" meaning there are no avable rooms
"Then I'll follow you into the dark" he's going to follower her in to the dark(unknowne, or death)
"In Catholic school as vicious as Roman rule
I got my knuckles bruised by a lady in black" - this is refering to the school being like the romans who were very visous rullers and hash punshments
"And I held my tongue as she told me
"Son fear is the heart of love"
So I never went back"- it's said that there is no fear in love so the lady in black(nun) was faluse teaching the students so he ran away from the school
"You and me have seen everything to see
From Bangkok to Calgary
"- meaning they have led a happy lifr and sean and done what they wonted to
"And the soles of your shoes are all worn down" there life has been long and they are getting tired and worn out likfe a pair of shoes.
"The time for sleep is now
It's nothing to cry about"- there getting ready to die but its nothing to be sad about because they will be together again meaning deaths not even strong enughf to keep them apart
Matt - Hartselle, Al
i think it is a beautiful song. whether it's criticizing religion or not, i am not sure but either you like it or dont and if you dont then thats okay by me....i personally like soul meets body waaaaay better but hey to each their own right?Amanda - Evergreen, Co
@Wambo: Fear is a foundation for love to grow upon.

To everyone who thinks this song is the best DCFC song out there:

It's not. Buy Something About Airplanes.
Shan - Orlando, Fl
@ Wambo, Wambotown, HI:

I think he means that it even if there's no (place in) heaven or hell, he will follow her into 'the big nothing' (the dark).
Ben - Schelle, Belgium
I am quite distracted - I wonder wether this song contains lyrics that are not very Christian. In fact, I'm Christian (and I'm absolutely convinced that I want to be a Christian, it's not just because my parents educaten me that way), but still I love this song. But it would somehow feel umcomfortable if this song was just hte opposite of what I think death is going to be like.

[Love of mine someday you will die
But I'll be close behind]

Does this imply suicide ("close behind", as if he was planning to die just after his love)???

[If heaven and hell decide
That they both are satisfied.]

Does this mean that he thinks heaven and hell can just make a deal and that heaven has a desire, the satisfaction of which can just be decided on? (sounds somehow blasphemical to me...)

[Illuminate the NOs on their vacancy signs.]

I don't get that part...

["Son fear is the heart of love"]

...nor I do get this part...


So, after all, I fear this song might contain criticism on christianity and its image of an afterlife. Of course I would never support these strict catholic schools, but still, I believe in God and an afterlife. Now I fear I might not be able to fight that out with my conscience...

Could someone answer my questions and/or simply tell me if death cab or this song is criticizing christianity???

thanks
Wambo - Wambotown, Hi
what sarah said is a better song in terms of reaching people and changing them on a massive scale.

but this song is beautiful because it uses imagery that no other song i've ever heard has

it doesnt just say that he'd follow her into heaven. or that he'd go to hell with her. he'd go into the unknown, which is ultimately going to take the most bravery, which is what love takes. You can look at this in terms of DEATH or in terms of LIFE, because they are one in the same. Its like when RUMI says, "I trust you to kill me" that if we shed our fears and embrace the unknown, we can fully love. This song isnt just about following somone into death, its about accepting and running into life.
Laura - Chicago, Il
if you think this is dcfc's best song than you are a complete fool and a poser. this is dcfc's most OVERPLAYED song and that's why i hate it. 'what sarah said' and 'syrofoam plates' are amazing dcfc songs.Benjamin - Monroe, Wa
This song has a deeper meaning, but Julian@San Ramon, CA posted a good comment. This song says "If there's no one beside you when your soul embarks, then I'll follow you in to the dark". To me this means that they would commit suicide to follow them.Patrick - Longwood, Fl
I heard this song and it made me cry. I lost my son 2 years ago(he was 10). And I think of him every time I hear this song. I immediatly bought the cd even though I had never heard of the band. That's how powerful this song is to me. ThanksDavid - Antioch, Il
I taught myself to play this song Ben Gibbard style on guitar, and it is an incredibly fun song to play.Jake - Hollywood, Ca
this was traken from a different site but i think has true meaning

catholics dont teach you to fear god, maybe some christian groups like puritans or crazy people like that not catholics tho and he was born in 77, catholic schools by the time he was in highschool like early 90s probably didnt even have nuns anymore i know catholic schools now dont have any and you think in early 90s they would still let nuns hit kids? thats insanely stupid and catholics do not teach you to fear god its a loving god

and then the true meaning i think :

the whole catholic school thing...i think you're taking it too literally. ben gibbard never tells you exactly what he means. he doesn't code his story with names like "ladies in black" that'd be too obvious. i think he just wanted to say that there are so many ways to look at love and he didn't agree that fear equals love. and this song is the most optimistic thing i've ever heard, it's not sad at all, although it's very melancholy. the message of the song is "if death scares you, i got your back. that's how much i love you. we're together forever." who knows? maybe death is freedom.
Michelle - Joburg, South Africa
I agree with almost everbody here.This is the best song by death cab for cutie.Shannon - Bakersfield , Ca
This is almost the best song ever made. it is so true. it made me cry the very first time i heard itCgoober - Olympia, Nh
This is a beautiful song. You can almost feel his love for his girlfriend pouring out of his mouth into our ears.Joe - Fort Meade, Md
I have to say this is definitely an amazing song, its sort of reassuring and leaves you at peace when you hear it. Ben Gibbard's lyrics never fail to impress me. I agree with Julian on the interpretation of this song, I'd never though of it that way but it makes a lot of sense to me and it seems to fit well. I'd love to hear this in concert (or any of their songs for that matter).Taylor - Baltimore, Md
I think this song, in addition to the catholic religion thing, is that its basically saying that death isn't something that should be feared, from watching the music video and listening to the song...a lot...I've gotten this mostly from the video, that death is unavoidable, like the hole in his floor that keeps growing until he falls into the hole. Then when he falls in he realizes that it was only about 6 feet deep and safe, then he ventures into the dark contently. On the idea of the girlfriend thing, that is in the song as well. Like some of the other comments have stated i agree with those. Sorry i cant end this on a better note but i cant think of anything more to write.Jordan - Red Hook, Ny
If i may offer a different interpretation to the song than what is posted here. The lyrics state that "if heaven and hell decide that they both are satisfied, illuminate the "NO"s on their vacancy signs, if theres no one beside you when your soul embarks, then I'll follow you into the dark". What that means is if heaven and hell simply cannot take in any more people, and his love has to spend eternity in darkness, he is willing to be there with her. He explain's that death is nothing to fear, because at the very least they'll have each other.Julian - San Ramon, Ca
this is by far one of death cab's best song. the acoustic guitar is amazing and the lyrics are haunting. the music video is also very creative and i enjoyed it. bravo deathcab, bravo.Madalyn - Greensburg, Pa