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Death Cab for Cutie On How Yoko Ono & Their Love Of Seattle Inspired 'Gold Rush': Watch
In this week’s episode of “How It Went Down,” Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard and Dave Depper explain how they created their song “Gold Rush,” which appeared on their ninth studio album, Thank You for Today.
The song was initially inspired by a sample of Yoko Ono’s song “Mind Train,” Gibbard tells Billboard. “When we went into the studio in Santa Monica with Rich Costey, our producer, he asked about that song and I remember…he dismissed it, saying, like ‘Well, like the lyrics are kind of s--tty.’”
But Costey noted that there was something in the music, so Gibbard took lyrics from a handful of songs he had previously written that didn’t make the cut for the album and he spliced the lyrics from those tracks in. Those songs, as Gibbard explains, were about “the relationship between memory and geography” and how his hometown of Seattle has been changing.
The vocalist also notes that he was concerned about the universality of “Gold Rush” because it was written from the perspective of “a 41-year-old man talking about the past 20 years of his adulthood,” rather than, he adds with a laugh, “a song about how tonight's gonna be the best night ever.”
He explains that he wrote the song for people who share similar sentiments about how it feels when a city they love transforms, therefore erasing their personal histories from those landscapes.
“That's something that one has to grapple with and it can be kind of difficult,” Gibbard says. “And there is an emotional toll, a spiritual toll, that the city takes on when it changes so rapidly.”
Depper adds, “It was proven almost immediately resonant when weeks after the single came out, it was announced that the Showbox, which is a beloved Seattle music institution venue, is scheduled to be demolished unless we do something about it.” (Since then, city officials have voted to temporarily save the venue.)
You can hear the full story of how Death Cab for Cutie wrote “Gold Rush” in the video above.