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"I Will Follow You into the Dark" is a song by indie rock band Death Cab for Cutie, the third single from their fifth album Plans, released on August 30, 2005.

"I Will Follow You into the Dark"
Single by Death Cab for Cutie
from the album Plans
ReleasedJune 26, 2006 (2006-06-26)
Format7", CD single
RecordedSpring 2005 at Long View Farm in North Brookfield, Massachusetts
Songwriter(s)Ben Gibbard
Producer(s)Chris Walla
Death Cab for Cutie singles chronology
"Crooked Teeth"
"I Will Follow You into the Dark"
"I Will Possess Your Heart"
Audio sample
I Will Follow You into the Dark

Written and performed by Ben Gibbard, it is an acoustic solo ballad, and was recorded in monaural with a single microphone and little editing.

The single was released on Atlantic Records, becoming one of Death Cab for Cutie's lowest-charting singles, peaking number 28 on the Modern Rock Tracks, number 66 on the UK Singles Chart and failing to chart on the Billboard Hot 100; however, "I Will Follow You into the Dark" was certified as gold by the Recording Industry Association of America, and is the band's best-selling single to-date. Despite charting lower than other singles, the single is still one of the band's most played songs on commercial radio stations. The song's popularity has led it to be featured in a various television shows and movies, and has been covered by numerous artists.


The song was written entirely by Death Cab for Cutie's lead singer and guitarist Ben Gibbard.

Nearing age 29, Gibbard had never lost anyone really special in his life. Growing older during an ideal and comfortable time of his life led him to begin obsessing over death, the afterlife, and the weight of his relationships. He started to take stock of the importance of the people in his life and felt a need to say something about it, writing the song to deal with his problems of focusing on life by expanding his scope to include death and what comes afterward.[1]

It's just this idea that what if somebody dies and we're just floating, just stumbling around in infinite darkness, and I'm just trying to find some kind of spiritual kind of peace with myself, and the world.

— Ben Gibbard[1]


Originally planned to be recorded later in the sessions for Plans, technical issues arose with one set of headphones while tracking the vocals for a different song. Producer and guitarist Chris Walla told Gibbard to take a break while the issues were being addressed. Gibbard picked up his guitar and began playing "I Will Follow You into the Dark", which was still going through the vocal microphone. Walla was impressed by the sound, leading him to suggest they do a quick tracking of the performance. It was this mono recording, with the only editing being mild compression and de-essing, that was eventually featured on the album and released as a single.[2] Due to the impromptu nature of the recording, the vocals on the track are mixed louder than the guitar, and Gibbard's breathing can be heard at the start of the song.[1]

Music videosEdit

In this screenshot of the main music video, Ben Gibbard plays his guitar in a sparse room while the ever-widening hole in the floor dominates the foreground.

Two music videos were created for "I Will Follow You into the Dark":

The main music video, filmed in Romania and directed by Jamie Thraves,[3] features Ben Gibbard in a small sparsely decorated apartment, playing the song while sitting on his bed when he notices a hole in the wooden floor. Gibbard goes about daily activities while avoiding the constantly expanding hole, eventually rolling out of bed into it, hanging on by his fingertips. He finally lets go, only to land unharmed on solid ground within the void about as deep as his height. The song ends with Gibbard walking into the darkness, then pans to show the entire room again with the floor restored to its original, intact state.

An alternative video, directed by Monkmus, appears on the Death Cab for Cutie's DVD Directions: The Plans Video Album. In this video, a picture-book takes up the center of the video frame, and the pages turn as the song progresses. Within the book, two rabbits meet and fall in love. Time passes until one of the rabbits apparently dies. There are other references to death throughout the video, such as a rotten bowl of fruit and an elderly man who appears to die, leaving his grandson behind. The video ends with a picture of the two rabbits together, presumably in eternal happiness together.[citation needed]


"I Will Follow You into the Dark" has two separate United Kingdom-exclusive, colored vinyl 7" releases with B-sides recorded as part of the band's Rolling Stone originals session. The part-one release is printed on teal vinyl with "Photobooth" from The Forbidden Love EP as the B-side, and the part-two release is printed on clear orange vinyl with a B-side of "Brothers on a Hotel Bed". The CD single was also only released in the UK and contains the same "Brothers on a Hotel Bed" B-side.


Critical receptionEdit

Critical response to "I Will Follow You into the Dark" was generally positive. In their reviews for the album Plans, Robert Christgau selected the song as his "choice cut",[4] Pitchfork Media called it the album's "quiet centerpiece" and praised its "unexpected turns of phrase",[5] PopMatters called it "one of the best written pop songs of the year – if not of the past five years",[6] and Tiny Mix Tapes stated that it was "one of the band's best songs to date."[7] Rolling Stone however, said that the song "demonstrates how wise Gibbard is to let the band mess with his pristine melodies, which would sound wispy and ignorable on their own."[8]

The song was nominated for the 2007 Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals, but lost to "My Humps" by The Black Eyed Peas.[9] By being nominated in this category, instead of for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance, it credited the entire band for Gibbard's solo performance.

Commercial receptionEdit

The song achieved gold certification from the Recording Industry Association of America in December 2009, for over 500,000 sales.[10] "I Will Follow You into the Dark" became Death Cab for Cutie's best-selling single to date, and their overall second best-selling release after the album Plans itself.

Usage in the mediaEdit

"I Will Follow You into the Dark" was featured on the soundtrack of the 2007 film The Invisible, a remake of the 2002 Swedish film Den Osynlige. In 2008 it was featured in the television series 90210, in the episode "That Which We Destroy". The song was featured in the sitcom Scrubs, in the season eight episode entitled "My Last Words", first broadcast in January 2009. The same year it was also the title of an episode of Grey's Anatomy in the fifth season, originally airing in March 2009. It was used in the 2011 Nikita episode "Into the Dark" (of which it was also the namesake), and was also used in the film Friends With Benefits the same year. An instrumental version of the song was featured in the 2011 film Crazy, Stupid, Love.[citation needed] The song was also used for the end credits of Mike Birbiglia's Netflix comedy special My Girlfriend's Boyfriend.

The 2012 film Into the Dark, originally titled I Will Follow You Into the Dark, derives its name from the song.

The book series, "ghostgirl", references the song in the books.

A parody of the song, entitled "I Will Follow You into the Abyss of Death", is featured in the 2007 film Alvin and the Chipmunks. In the movie, protagonist Dave Seville (Jason Lee) pitches the tune to record company executive Ian Hawke (David Cross), who pans it after hearing only a few seconds, and then encourages Seville to abandon his songwriting career.


Chart (2006) Peak
UK Singles Chart[11] 66
U.S. Billboard Hot Adult Top 40 Tracks[12] 34
U.S. Billboard Hot Modern Rock Tracks[13] 28


Region Certification Certified units/sales
Canada (Music Canada)[14] Platinum 80,000 
United States (RIAA)[15] Gold 500,000*

^shipments figures based on certification alone

Cover versionsEdit

  • Amanda Palmer of The Dresden Dolls recorded a cover of the song during the recording sessions for Who Killed Amanda Palmer. It appears on the limited edition 'Alternate Tracks' release as well as a Brainwashed Records compilation entitled 'Peace (for mom)'.[16] She also performed the song at a concert held in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada on a tour in November 2011 for what would become the album An Evening With Neil Gaiman & Amanda Palmer, in tribute to the overdose death of a young woman at Occupy Vancouver two days earlier.[17][18]
  • Canadian singer Amy Millan recorded a cover of the song. An audio sample can be heard on her official MySpace page.[19]
  • Bluegrass band Cadillac Sky recorded a cover of the song and is included on the band's self-produced EP/CD, Weary Angel.
  • Andrew Belle recorded a cover of the song on his Sundays at Rockit album.
  • Stewart Francke released a cover of the song on the album Heartless World, which he made available for free download on his website after the death of Clarence Clemons, along with the song "Summer Soldier (Holler If Ya Hear Me)" featuring Bruce Springsteen.
  • Everclear covered this song on their Return to Santa Monica album.
  • Bayside covered this song on the limited-edition EP, Bayside/I Am the Avalanche.
  • American singer-songwriter Matt Simons covered the song in his debut album Pieces and is the only cover song on the album with the other 9 tracks all Simons' compositions.
  • California singer-songwriter-guitarist Julianna Zachariou covered the song on her 2011 debut album Tell Tell Tell. It is the only cover song on the album; the other 11 tracks are originals.
  • Caroline Glaser, The Voice USA 2013 Alumni, recorded a cover of the song on her 2013 EP called "Caroline Glaser, Vol. 1". It is one of the only 3 songs on her first EP; the other 2 tracks are originals.
  • Natalie Imbruglia covered the song on her album Male released in 2015.
  • Ingrid Michaelson and Mat Kearney covered the song live in their 2010 tour.[20]
  • Amy Lee of the band Evanescence covered the song on a Hello Kitty keyboard for online magazine Loudwire.[21]
  • Dave Crosby, most famously known for his songs on YouTube with his daughter, sang this during the Blind Auditions of The Voice Season 13
  • Indie pop band Echosmith performed a live cover of the song as part of their setlist for their 2018 Inside A Dream tour.
  • This Wild Life performed a shortened (1 verse and 1 chorus) version of the song as part of their Warped Tour 2018 set.
  • Yungblud and Halsey produced a duo version for Triple J's Like a Version radio shop with an accompanying video released 21, Feb 2019.


  1. ^ a b c Hanna, Steven. "Death Cab for Cutie: The Plan Hereafter". Chord Magazine. Archived from the original on 2006-11-03. Retrieved 2008-11-24. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  2. ^ Clark, Rick (2006-01-01). "Growing in the Studio, Making Plans". Mix. Archived from the original on 2009-04-27. Retrieved 2008-11-24. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  3. ^ "Press release". Atlantic Records. September 6, 2006. Retrieved 2008-12-16.[dead link]
  4. ^ Christgau, Robert. "Death Cab for Cutie consumer Guide reviews". Retrieved 2008-11-24.
  5. ^ Tangari, Joe. "Plans album review". Pitchfork Media. Archived from the original on 2008-12-07. Retrieved 2008-11-24. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  6. ^ McDermott, Ryan. "Plans album review". PopMatters. Retrieved 2008-11-24.
  7. ^ "Plans album review". Tiny Mix Tapes. Archived from the original on 23 January 2009. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  8. ^ Sheffield, Rob (2005-08-22). "Plans album review". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2008-11-24.
  9. ^ "49th Annual Grammy Awards Winners List". Grammy. Archived from the original on 2006-12-20. Retrieved 2008-12-15. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  10. ^ "American certifications – Death Cab for Cutie – I Will Follow You Into The Dark". Recording Industry Association of America.
  11. ^ "Death Cab For Cutie - I Will Follow You Into The Dark - Music Charts". αCharts. Retrieved 2008-12-15.
  12. ^ "Death Cab for Cutie Album & Song Chart History: Adult Pop Songs". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 2011-03-09.
  13. ^ "Hot Modern Rock Tracks - I Will Follow You Into The Dark - Death Cab For Cutie". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media. Archived from the original on May 5, 2013. Retrieved 2008-12-15. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  14. ^ "Canadian single certifications – Death Cab For Cutie – I Will Follow You into the Dark". Music Canada. Retrieved March 17, 2019.
  15. ^ "American single certifications – Death Cab For Cutie – I Will Follow You into the Dark". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved March 17, 2019. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH. 
  16. ^ "Peace (for mom)". 2008-03-06. Retrieved 2013-10-18.
  17. ^ "Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman give fans their money's worth in Vancouver". 2011-11-07. Retrieved 2014-01-09.
  18. ^ "Occupy Vancouver death dooms protest camp". 2011-11-05. Retrieved 2014-01-09.
  19. ^ "Amy Millan | Free Music, Mixes, Tour Dates, Photos, Videos". 2013-05-06. Retrieved 2013-10-18.
  20. ^ "Mat Kearney & Ingrid Michaelson - I Will Follow You Into The Dark - Charlotte, NC - 03.23.10". 2010-03-23.
  21. ^ "Watch Evanescence's Amy Lee Perform on a Hello Kitty Keyboard 11.01.16". 2016-11-01.

External linksEdit