I Should Live in Salt

Album: Trouble Will Find Me (2013)

Songfacts®:

  • This song finds a guilty Matt Berninger pining for redemption as he intones, "I should live in salt for leaving you behind." The song was the catalyst for The Trouble Will Find Me album. The plan had been to take time off after High Violet, for the band to recharge their batteries after a long tour. "But then," recalled guitarist Aaron Dessner to The Guardian, "towards the end of High Violet I had some ideas and I was home and I started writing them and Matt heard them and he started writing songs immediately."

    One of them was this tune. "And there was something about that song that made me feel like maybe we were making a record already or something," he continued. "And because that song has a funny extra beat and has a different feeling to High Violet - and I think to anything else we'd done - it got me kind of excited."
  • Aaron Desner composed the music as a send-up to the Kinks whilst Matt Berninger wrote the lyrics about his fractious relationship with his younger brother Tom. Berninger told the UK newspaper The Sun; "It began as 'I Should Leave Us All' meaning like I should kill myself or something but that was too much.
    Then I changed it to 'I Should Live in Salt' as in salty tears, living in regret and mourning. There's this sense of an estrangement. And there was an estrangement between my brother and I for 20 years. So if that song's about somebody, it's more about him than anybody else."

    Tom Berninger had a less-than-successful stint as a roadie for the band during the High Violet tour, which was documented in a film titled Mistaken for Strangers.
  • Matt Berninger told Under the Radar in 2013: "In truth, that song is very much—but not on an every line level—about my younger brother, Tom. He was very much in mind the whole time I was writing thoughts and lyrics for that song. It's about maybe feeling some guilt about having left somebody or abandoned somebody. Not that I felt so guilty. I left for college when my little brother was nine years old, and then we became reunited when he joined us on tour. He just finished making a film about that, and it's really good. It's called Mistaken for Strangers. But we spent a lot of time together over the past couple years, and he lives with my wife and I still, actually. It has been a great thing, and it has also been a really toxic situation. But now we know each other as adults, and I think the song is a reflection on our relationship, and some of it is my guilt or feeling that he went in a different direction than I did. He's a brilliant, hilarious, happy man, but the spirit of the song is about him. The salt in the song, I couldn't say why I put that in there. It could be something like 'I should live in tears' or something. I don't know. It just felt good. Maybe I'm hiding some of my earnest emotion in that one behind a weird title." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France

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