album-plansIt’s been ten years since the release of Death Cab For Cutie’s Plans. Here at Secretly Rad, we’re celebrating, or more accurately, crying. Read the ten year dedications from Dave & Meghan. What did Plans mean to you? Let us know in the comments or tweet us @secretlyrad.

By: Meghan Kearney

Often times I find I’m one of very few people who will proudly share that Plans is my favorite Death Cab record. When I think about why, it hasn’t ever necessarily been tied completely to the the idea that these songs were somehow groundbreaking, like how I think we are supposed to feel about Transatlanticism, but rather, the way it soundtracked a particularly transitional period of my life.

Plans was released at the start of my sophomore year of college. I had settled into life away from home, had made some of the best group of friends I had ever had before then, but I didn’t quite have my shit together. I spent every day thinking about how important it was for me to get good grades, and every night thinking about how hard I could possibly push my teenage body to party. Plans was the soundtrack to all of this.

While each track on this record holds a special place in my memory, still bringing me similar kinds of comfort, what Plans really is to me is one song, and a reminder of one specific recurring activity. Let’s go back to the good grades thing. Sometime around mid-2006, my classes began to get harder. I was actually in college now. I was done with math 101, and into Media Ethics 401. I had to make responsible decisions for the first time in my life. And the most fondly coherent memory I have from this: All-nighters. Death Cab then was this perfect blend of calming comfort, one that went perfectly with those delusional 4am outlines crafted uselessly at the back of Strozier Library’s 4th floor.

This narrative of my connection with Plans though, is best told through one of my favorite songs, “Brothers on a Hotel Bed.” This is a song that has been so intensely meaningful in my life in so many ways for all ten years of Plans. The first, and maybe most significant memory I have with “BOHAB,” as my dear friend Meagan and I dyslexically acronymed it, was one all night study session that took place with not surprisingly, Meagan. I remember sitting across from Meagan in Tallahassee’s super hip, vegan, All Saints Cafe. Both of us weary, both of our brains quickly melting, both with earphones in our ears as we sat through the night with endless cups of coffee and textbooks. That night, I had “BOHAB” on repeat.

Somewhere around 4am, at a peak of delusion, the song completely took me away. I looked down at the neon yellow, pink, and purple page of highlighted text below me and realized how lucky I was. Despite being sleepy, despite potentially failing the exam that was just hours away, I was sitting at a rad 24-hour cafe with my wonderful new friend, being responsible. I could get up and buy another cup of coffee if I wanted to. I wasn’t a kid anymore. I was now living a life where the path I took was up to me.

This daze, and the looping track continued until around until 5:30 am, when McDonald’s started serving breakfast. Meagan and I closed our books, and headed off in the dark for McMuffins. Meagan is still my friend to this day and BOHAB is still a song that always reminds me of her. I’ve had countless other moments with this song over the years. It’s helped me find clarity and make decisions. It’s soothed my mind and it’s made me see the world more beautifully whenever it’s playing.

Plans will always be the record that soundtracked the first big emotional transition in my life. Angsty, I know. But that is what Plans means to me. Happy 10th birthday.

By: Dave Wexler

The opening of Death Cab For Cutie’s Plans always hit home for me being a New Yorker. 10 years after its release “Marching Bands of Manhattan” hits just as hard, but for a new reason. Last year I relocated from New York City to Seattle, hometown to Death Cab. Plans was released on August 30th, 2005 and became an instant favorite for me and countless other fans of the band.

In the decade since its release this album has aged along with me. “Marching Bands” sets a tone of love and heartbreak which is vastly what the year 2005 was like. The emotional attachment I have to this album runs deep and that’s a sign of an album that will always speak to me as a listener.

Death plays a huge part in this album, and it’s evident with the most popular song on the album, “I Will Follow You Into The Dark”. For me, Gibbard’s lyrics paints a picture of a couple, one that has been together for many years and as he remembers their life together. It’s a song about never wanting to be separated from the one you love, even in death.

As much as I love that song , personally the song about death that breaks me in half is “What Sarah Said” . In April of 2005 my Grandmother passed away from brain cancer, the months leading up to that I spent more time in the hospital then I would care to ever spend again. My parents had just moved to Florida and my brother lived in Atlanta, so it was mostly my Aunt, Grandfather, and myself at the hospital visiting her frequently. There were a few moments when I could tell that my presence was really making her happy as she lived her last months out.

The line in Sarah “As each descending peak on the LCD took you a little farther away from me” suggests that it was inevitable in Ben’s eyes as it was in mine, death was waiting. I sank into a deep hole of depression from being in that hospital multiple times a week. The last line of the song “So who’s gonna watch you die?”, it rang through to my core. When you really think about it, when you die, who’s going to be there in those final moments? Eventually my Grandmother succumbed to her battle with cancer, but not before my entire family was in New York. We were all in the room when she passed, in her home, comfortably in her bed.

The transition and ambiance that carries Sarah over to “Brothers On A Hotel Bed” is one of my favorite moments on the album, as Brothers is my favorite track overall. Musically, Brothers is a warming song , the keys send me to a place, almost like a dream state. It’s the opening lyric “You may tire of me as our December sun is setting because I’m not who I used to be,” that makes me realize how much I have changed, especially in the eyes of others.

The euphemism of the song title makes sense, growing up and going on family vacations having to share a hotel bed with my brother. Even though this is someone that I took baths with as a child, you still want to have your space when forced to share a bed. It’s a weird thing to think about in terms of a relationship, it’s a painful place to get to where you sleep with your partner feeling like that.

Overall, the music on this album gives off a peaceful, dreamy feel to it. The campfire vibe that starts with “Different Names For The Same Thing” is another favorite moment of mine. The themes of traveling are prominent on this track as well as the album, as they are on the rest of the bands catalog. “Soul Meets Body” has that same dreamy feel to it, being haunting but not feeling like a nightmare. Where Ben sings “‘Cause in my head there’s a Greyhound station, I send my thoughts to far-off destinations,” I relate to traveling , even if it is only a voyage of my thoughts.

I took a job in 2008 that had me traveling for sometimes 2 weeks a month and my perception of home would soon change. When I wasn’t traveling and I was “stuck” in New York, I would often think there’s so much to be doing in so many other places. The reflection of that feeling in the song “Your Heart Is An Empty Room”, is uncanny.

“Cause all you see is where else you could be when you’re at home.
Out on the street are so many possibilities to not be alone”.

The reason I love to travel is that I am never satisfied at home for an extended period of time and I don’t feel so alone when I am exploring a city .

I could go on and on about how perfectly crafted Plans is and how it fulfills every emotion I have felt in the last 10 years of my life from the happiness of falling in love and the sadness of loss in death and relationships. It has stayed with me all these years and so has Death Cab For Cutie, musically and lyrically they find a way to tap into the complex emotions coursing through me.

There’s a lyric in the last track “Stable Song” :

“The gift of memory is an awful curse, With age it just gets much worse but I don’t mind,”

I don’t know if I necessarily agree that it’s an awful curse, it can sometimes be interpreted that way. The memories that Plans brings up for me aren’t always pleasant ones but it continues to be a part of newly crafted memories, and I hope it continues to do that for years to come.