The album version of this song runs 8:35 seconds, with an instrumental intro that lasts over 4 minutes. The radio edit is clipped to less than 4 minutes, and was the first single from Narrow Stairs
Bertrand - Paris, France
This psychedelic song with its delayed vocal entry was a different style for the band. Frontman Ben Gibbard explained to gigwise.com
how it came about: "As Nick (Harmer) put the bass line in we started kind of playing with the song. The idea was that we just kind of played it and let the themes kind of build and when it feels right really dive into the lyrics… and it just so happened that that was five minutes into the song. As it was going down on tape we realized that we had never presented a song this way before, but I hope people accept it from us, I don't think it's such a wild departure that we'll lose people."
Gibbard wrote in an article in Pulse magazine: "The single on our record is a work of fiction that was inspired by things that happened to some people close to me. It's called 'I Will Possess Your Heart,' and it's eight-and-a-half minutes long. It's five minutes of build and then a three-minute song. The song is basically about a stalker. It's about this nice guy who wants this girl he can't have, and he believes they'll be together once she realizes how great he is-he just has to wait it out. That's the part that makes the song really creepy, the delusion of thinking that they were meant to be together. It's a really dark song."
Bassist Nick Harmer told Billboard magazine: "We hit our stride on that song. We looked at the habitual things we've done in the past and tried to move beyond them."
Guitarist Chris Walla described this as "a big, ridiculous space jam. There'd be no place for it in the Death Cab of old. But it fit perfectly into the aesthetic the band employed while recording Stairs."
Along with rest of the album, this song was recorded live to analog tape with as few overdubs as possible. This was a return to their early recording technique according to Gibbard. He told Gigwise: "We recorded our first four albums on tape so we decided to go back to that format with us all playing together live. Clearly there were some overdubs here or there but the organic element that you hear in 'I Will Possess Your Heart' is in a direct relation to the fact that that song was played from start to finish with all four of us playing at the same time."
The album was produced by guitarist Chris Walla, who has previously produced and engineered albums by Hot Hot Heat and The Decemberists. He described to Billboard magazine the album as: "really weird. It's really, really good, I think, but it's totally a curve ball, and I think it's gonna be a really polarizing record. But I'm really excited about it. It's really got some teeth. The landscape of the thing is way, way more lunar than the urban meadow sort of thing that has been happening for the last couple of records."
Gibbard explained to Gigwise that the album explores, as a theme, the notion "when you watch a movie and at the end of the movie people embrace and people are happy and the credits roll. I think a lot of the songs are a case of what might happen if the credits stopped rolling and you were back with these characters that you've just watched for an hour and a half, and now you have to really see them enter the world."
Nick Harmer told MassLive.com
how he came up with the song's bass line. "I immediately gravitated to the creepy, stalker-ish theme that Ben created with the lyrics and the piano chords," he explained. "I cued in on repetitive stalker mood. I liked the idea that once a stalker gets obsessed with an idea, it just keeps repeating in his head, so I wanted the bass line to have a repetitive, incessant theme. The original demo was just a stripped down piano version, so I had a lot of freedom. Once they heard the bass line, everybody said let's really build on this thing in the beginning of the song."
The music video features scenes of a young woman traveling alone to various places around the world. Director Aaron Stewart-Ahn, put together footage from shots in London, Paris, Frankfurt, Carthage, Tunis, Bangkok, Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Tokyo, Hokkaido and New York City. The actress and crew traveled a total 27,977 miles in 13 days for the clip.