This semi-detached rumination on social angst and death finds the song's narrator engaging in some self-indulgent despair. Frontman Matt Berniger croons:
"I retired to the briars by the pool it gets so loud If I die this instant Taken from a distance They will probably list it down among other things around town."
The song is one of several on Trouble Will Find Me where Berniger explores mortality in a playful way. Asked by The Independent what he has learned about death, the vocalist replied: "I'm a secular humanist. I believe that when our light goes off we're dust. I think our heaven and hell will come from how we leave the world and how we treat others – that was something that came into stark reality for me when I had a kid." "Maybe if I at least try to make my little girl happy," he continued, "I'll get to leave some heaven around and that will be my afterlife. I don't find that depressing – I actually find it very soothing and motivating."
The song features backing vocals from The National's fellow New Yorker, St. Vincent.
Eddie Vedder often changes the words when he sings "Yellow Ledbetter." The basic story is about a guy whose brother dies in the first Gulf War. Apparently, bad news in the army is given in yellow envelopes.