Death Cab for Cutie’s new single ‘Gold Rush’ takes on the rise of Amazon

Death Cab for Cutie has a new album, Thank You for Today, coming out on August 17 and the band just released a video for the first single, Gold Rush. The song could prove a cautionary tale for all those cities desperately vying to be the new Amazon headquarters — “be careful what you wish for.”

In the video, as singer Ben Gibbard walks down a street filled with shuttered retail establishments, he’s increasingly buffeted by unfamiliar people headed the other way, until he’s drowning in a crowd of oblivious cell-phone users.

Oh, how I feel like a stranger here,
Searching for something that’s disappeared.
They’re digging for gold in my neighborhood,
For what they say is the greater good.
But all I see is a long goodbye,
A requiem for a skyline.

The band, originally from Bellingham, has called Seattle home for years. In an interview with NPR for the All Songs Considered podcast, Gibbard says it’s a song about how his Capitol Hill neighborhood has changed.

“Seattle has been transformed into an almost unrecognizable city over the past 15 to 20 years with the tech boom and specifically with the rise of Amazon and all the other carpet-bagging tech firms that have moved into town to kind of pilfer employees off of Amazon,” he said.

There’s no doubt that Seattle has undergone explosive growth over the past decade, spurred not only by Amazon but also Google, Facebook, and Uber. Geekwire even has a special interactive map to track the engineering centers sprouting up across the area — more than 80 so far (and counting).

As Curbed Seattle points out, observant viewers will recognize that the video wasn’t actually shot in Seattle but rather in Los Angeles. Not many palm trees in the Emerald City.

Gibbard, who’s wanted to write this song for several years, said it’s a rueful lament about losing people and places that make neighborhoods or cities special. “The song is not a complaint about how things were better or anything like that,” he said. “It’s an observation, but more about coming to terms with the passage of time and losing the people and the moments in my life all over again as I walk down a street that is now so unfamiliar.”

“For me what has been the most painful is just seeing the displacement of both people of color and creative communities from not only this neighborhood but the city,” Gibbard added. “Artists and musicians are holding on as well as they can, but it seems like it’s somewhat of a losing battle.”

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