Song Of The Week: “I Will Possess Your Heart” by Death Cab For Cutie

This is my favorite Death Cab For Cutie song, hands down. The lead single off their 2008 album Narrow Stairs, the track is notable for its extended instrumental intro, clocking in at around 5 minutes. The instrumental is genius, in my opinion – it’s wonderfully moody, atmospheric, and fits the feel of the song proper. It subtly builds from a memorable bassline into an upbeat indie drum, all layered atop some sweeping, windy sound effects. The guitar playing is subtle and understated – just the right amounts at just the right times. It feels free and spontaneous yet carefully composed at the same time. Around 5 minutes in, the song breaks down into vocalist Ben Gibbard’s instantly-recognizable vocals. From here on out, the tune is fairly typical Death Cab fare; I still think it’s one of their best. It retains the smooth, brooding atmosphere of the intro while playing like a more typical rock song. This song is a prime example of how to write lyrics that match perfectly with music: Gibbard is a master at that task. The lyrics are contemplative and longing yet do not get bogged down in typical emo histrionics: “How I wish you could see the potential / The potential of you and me / It’s like a book elegantly bound / In a language that you can’t read …… just yet.” That first verse, even after I’ve heard the song dozens of times, still gives me chills. The thing about this song is: once you’ve heard it with the instrumental intro, it breaks your heart to hear it without. The edited version kills me… I get that it’s a long song, but it completely ruins the mood and meaning of the whole thing! Have a little respect for your artistry, guys! I think Death Cab should have picked a different first singly…. this sits better as an album cut than a single. Either way, it’s a masterpiece, and probably in my top 10 songs of all time. Set aside 9 minutes of your life and let yourself be carried away…


About Ryan Felder

My name is Ryan. I like music. On this blog, I post the setlists for my radio show, Art For Art's Sake, as well as reviews of the latest new independent music and a Song Of The Week, every week. You can listen to my radio show on 90.3 The Core, an independent student-run college radio station broadcasting from Rutgers University in Piscataway, New Jersey. My show runs Thursday nights from 12am-2am and streams live on the internet at View all posts by Ryan Felder

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