Week 26: “Marching Bands of Manhattan” by Death Cab For Cutie

Picking which Death Cab song to include on this list is like being asked to pick your favourite child. So I’d like to take a moment to apologize to all the other children in the Death Cab family. Sorry, “405”. Forgive me, “Title and Registration”. It’s nothing personal, “Passenger Seat”. For my money, Death Cab’s 2005 album, “Plans”, is their masterpiece. Hearing this song, the opening track on the album, is like watching the opening credits to your favourite movie, and the chills run down your spine because you know that you’re in for 45 minutes of indie awesome.

What makes this a beautiful song:

1. The organ that emerges from the atmospheric noise at the beginning. Like walking into a candle-lit church on Christmas Eve.

2. The lyrics. I’ve already praised Benjamin Gibbard’s gift for lyrics in an earlier post about the Postal Service; here, he ends the song on a great repeating couplet: “Sorrow drips into your heart through a pinhole / Like a faucet that leaks and there is comfort in the sound. / But while you debate half-empty or half-full / It slowly rises / Your love is gonna drown.”

3. The build-up. The whole song is basically one long crescendo. And then, just when you’re wondering how big the finish is going to be, they end it on a single note on the piano.

Recommended listening activity:

Adding milk to your tea and watching it swirl.

Buy it here.