“Here to Forever” Acoustic #Music #DeathCabForCutie #Inspiration

Last month, an all-time favorite artist of mine, Death Cab for Cutie, re-released an acoustic version of their new album, “Asphalt Meadows,” which in my opinion is even better than its studio version counterpart.

This version of “Here to Forever” is on the release and I think it is an apt “summary” of Death Cab’s entire catalog to date. They have always mixed in somewhat morbid lyrics into their songs in the past. Frontman, Ben Gibbard, has had his share of ups and downs which he frequently incorporates into his music, especially in his album “Kintsugi” in which he riffs on his ex-wife Zooey Deschanel and their tenuous relationship.

“Here to Forever” in my view is a song about God and the afterlife. It is obvious to me that Hibbard is searching for “God or whatever.” The second line of the song:

And it ain’t easy living above
And I can’t help but keep falling in love
With bones and ashes
With bones and ashes
And when the color is too bold and bright
I’m daydreaming in black and white
Until it passes

“Here to Forever,” Benjamin Gibbard, Zac Rae (© Grumpy Beard Music, Where I’m Calling From Music)

This type of line seems to be something Gibbard is constantly turning over in his mind. Living versus dying. It also seems like he might struggle with depression and suicidal ideation. I haven’t seen any interviews where that has come up so I can’t tell you definitively if that is the case so it’s only conjecture.

The chorus of the song is interesting as well:

I wanna know the measure
From here to forever
And I wanna feel the pressure
Of God or whatever
Now it seems more than ever
There’s no hands on the levers
And I wanna feel the pressure
Of God or whatever

“Here to Forever,” Benjamin Gibbard, Zac Rae (© Grumpy Beard Music, Where I’m Calling From Music)

The struggle for Gibbard it seems is that in the absence of God, the world feels like it is out of control. I expect that is the case for many people in our world today. There is a ratcheting up of fear and uncertainty that is evident in the news, the increase in violence in our country and abroad, the ongoing wars, and the economic fallout. One of the most de-stabilizing events of my lifetime was the global pandemic of COVID-19 and then the reaction (and over-reaction) of governments worldwide. Mistrust and fear ran rampant around the globe. Voices from each spectrum grew louder and louder but didn’t really have any solutions or answers to the ongoing problems that persist even today.

A godless world is a scary one. What do any of the laws of society anchor to if there is no God? Much of what “rules” in our day today is based on popular opinion rather than absolute truth. But popular opinion was very different 10 years ago. Do we as a society change laws and alter “truth” every other political administration to fit what that party deems as “right”?

The most startling trend I see is that there is no “room” for dissent against the court of popular opinion. Social media tribalism raises up with one voice against unpopular views no matter what basis in reality or truth they have. If the “mob” views an opinion to be outside of their own, they resort to shaming and cancel culture and “public humiliation” tactics to shout someone down. Isn’t that how they dealt with people in the Middle Ages… by putting them in the stocks and hurling tomatoes at them? Is that really how we want to have public discourse on issues?

The one line in the song that I take slight offense to is the song’s bridge:

Holy rollers keep rolling
While the searchers keep scrolling

“Here to Forever,” Benjamin Gibbard, Zac Rae (© Grumpy Beard Music, Where I’m Calling From Music)

I take offense (slightly) to lyric as it seems like those who have found God, as indifferent to those around them. I think it is also a rebuke to the Church though as well. As a Christian, I believe Jesus and the Christian God is the only way to heaven. I realize that is an unpopular view, but I am not indifferent to any other person searching for God or that has a dissenting view. I am open about my beliefs and why I believe them. I’d like to have genuine discourse about it. I’d be delighted with a face-to-face meeting at a coffee shop or somewhere like that to civilly talk about it. I would come to a conversation like that with an open mind and an empathetic heart.

The rebuke of the Church is a bit more subtle. I think it is in the context of the song. Those searching have been to our churches, they might have grown up in church, but what they find or what they see “so-called” Christians do, doesn’t line up with what they say they believe causing searchers to pass. That is a sad reality. I think as the Church, it is a call to rethink things and make new in-roads and engage those people in different ways and in different settings. To make amends and to ask for forgiveness. The current discourse in Western culture offers no allowance for “forgiveness.” You have one shot to be perfect, have the right views on all topics, and never say something wrong. Otherwise you are “cancelled.” That approach seems pretty hypocritical to me.

Despite its barb, this song is still one of my current favorites and I think there is a lot of wisdom and a lot to contemplate in it. I hope you enjoy and I hope my thoughts spur you to think too, and engage.

Thanks, Jason

Get a copy of “Asphalt Meadows” Acoustic by Death Cab for Cutie on Amazon here.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s