Death Cab For Cutie

Last month Death Cab For Cutie returned to the spotlight with “You Are A Tourist,” the great first single and video from their forthcoming Codes And Keys. A sunny addition to our spring playlist, it recalls brighter moments of mid-period Cure when it’s not channeling “Float On.” That’s fitting given how Ben Gibbard’s got five Cure covers in his live repertoire. In fact I can’t remember ever seeing the guy perform without hearing some other band’s song in the set. So before we gear up to collectively prematurely evaluate Codes, here’s a listen back at Ben in all his incarnations (DCFC, Postal Service, solo, with Zooey, etc) covering dozens of classics and Avril Lavigne. They’re arranged below worst to best, based on a scientific formula of how cool they are. Could Death Cab be indie rock’s best wedding band? Tell us your favorite…

“The Star-Spangled Banner”

“I’ll Never Find Another You” [w/ Zooey Deschanel] (The Seekers)

“26 Is Too Soon” (Kind Of Like Spitting)

“I Want It That Way” (Backstreet Boys)

“Sick Of Myself” (Matthew Sweet)

“I Hate Myself For Loving You” (Joan Jett)

“Rocking Chair” (The Band)

“Sweet And Tender Hooligan” (The Smiths)

“Earth Angel” (The Penguins)

“Fortunate Song” [w/ Sean Nelson] (Creedence Clearwater Revivial)

“Hungry Like The Wolf” snippet (Duran Duran)

“Timeless Melody” [w/ Pearl Jam] (The La’s)

“Why I Cry” [w/ Daniel Handler] (Magnetic Fields)

“Dream Scream” (Daniel Johnston)

“Silver Lining” (Rilo Kiley)

“Girl You Want” (Devo)

“It’ll Be A Breeze” (The Long Winters)

“You’re Ex-Lover Is Dead” (Stars)

“Dream” [w/ Zooey Deschanel] (The Everly Brothers)

“After Hours” (The Velvet Underground)

“Head Over Heels” (Tears For Fears)

“Choir Vandals” (American Analog Set)

“Little Boxes” (Malvina Reynolds)

“Cuddly Toy” [w/ Zooey Deschanel] (Harry Nilsson)

“To Sing For You” (Donovan)

“Indian Summer” (Beat Happening)

“Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” (Cyndi Lauper)

“Harvest Moon” (Neil Young)

“All Is Full Of Love” (Björk)

“St. Swithin’s Day” (Billy Bragg)

“Heaven” (Psychedelic Furs)

“I Wanna Be Adored” (Stone Roses)

“You Woke Up My Neighbourhood” (Billy Bragg)

“Go Your Own Way” [w/ The Decemberists -- starts 1m in] (Fleetwood Mac)

“Kicked In” (Superchunk)

“She Still Thinks I Care” (George Jones)

“Blacking Out The Friction”/”Brand New Love” (Sebadoh)

“Blacking Out The Friction”/”Say Yes” (Elliott Smith)

“Blacking Out The Friction”/”Atmosphere” (Joy Division)

“Wait” (Secret Stars)

“The Saddest Story Ever Told” (Magnetic Fields)

“Palmcorder Yajna” (The Mountain Goats)

“Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow)” (The Monkees)

“Ballerina Out Of Control” (The Ocean Blue)

“Sweeter” (Julie Doiron)

“To Sing For You” (Donovan)

“Here Comes The Rain Again” (The Eurythmics)

“Bloomed” (Richard Buckner)

“Friday I’m In Love” (The Cure)

“Free Fallin” [w/ Mates Of State] (Tom Petty)

“Complicated” (Avril Lavigne)

“They Don’t Know” (Kirsty MacColl)

“Handle With Care” [w/ Jenny Lewis, Conor Oberst, M. Ward] (Traveling Wilburys)

“Thriller” (Michael Jackson)

“Start Again” (Teenage Fanclub)

“This Charming Man” (The Smiths)

“All Apologies” (Nirvana)

“Dear Boy” (Paul McCartney)

“I Don’t Want To Get Over You” (Magnetic Fields)

“Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” (Darlene Love)

“Train Song” [w/ Feist] (Vashti Bunyan)

“The Dream Is Over” (John Vanderslice)

“Don’t You (Forget About Me)” (Simple Minds)

“All I Need” (Radiohead)

“Against All Odds” (Phil Collins)

“Joga” (Björk)

“Lovesong” (The Cure)

“World Shut Your Mouth” (Julian Cope)

“God Save The Queen” [w/ Oddfellow Local c.1993] (The Sex Pistols)

OK, maybe that’s not EVERY cover. For completists’ sake, here are other songs they’ve tackled but aren’t available on the Internet if you can believe that:
- “Hold On” (Spiritualized)
- “I Hate To See You Cry” (Alan Hull)
- “It Makes No Difference” (The Band)
- “Jumping Someone Else’s Train” (The Cure)
- “Close To Me” (The Cure)
- “A Forest (The Cure)
- “Shiver Holds” (The Prom)
- “Sweet Child O’ Mine” (Guns N’ Roses)
- “The Mess Inside” (The Mountain Goats)
- “What Do You Want Me To Say?” (The Dismemberment Plan)
- “What Have I Done To Deserve This?” (Pet Shop Boys)
- “You Are Invited” (The Dismemberment Plan)
- “Slow Fade” (Teenage Fanclub)
- “Girl From The North Country” (Bob Dylan)
- “Gleemer” (Guided By Voices)
- “Hysteria” (Def Leppard)
- “Blue And Wonder” (Richard Buckner)
- “Grow Old with Me” (John Lennon)
- “Up The Junction” (Squeeze)
- “Suddenly Everything Has Changed” (The Flaming Lips)
- “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out” (The Smiths)
- “Mandy” (Barry Manilow)
- “Centerfield” (John Fogerty)
If you’ve got any, including ones I didn’t even know about, give a heads up in the comments or shoot me an e-mail. UPDATE: Thanks for all the e-mail links… will update w/ audio below and strikeout the ’requests’ in the list above as they as posted.

“Gleemer” (Guided By Voices) > “I Was A Kaleidoscope”

“Hold On” (Spiritualized)

“I Hate To See You Cry” (Alan Hull)

“There Is A Light That Never Goes Out” [w/ Chris Walla] (The Smiths)

“Grow Old With Me” (John Lennon)

“Blue & Wonder” (Richard Buckner)

“Shiver Holds” (The Prom)

Thanks Steven R., Erik D, and Verdi. More TK.

Comments (36)
  1. Missed a few….

    I’m Going Home by The Sonics

    Bad Reputation by Freddy Johnston –

  2. You missed one that was posted on this site even:

    Unless there’s no non-video audio of it out there or it doesn’t count for some reason. It was pretty lame.

  3. I saw Ben Gibbard sing “It Makes No Difference” by The Band at an 826 National fundraiser in Seattle in 2006. It was good. Sad. I can’t find a link.

  4. You forgot his most recent cover, “Love’s Gonna Live Here” by Buck Owens from his Noisepop 2011 show at the Great American. Ironicly he talked joked at length about how he chooses what to cover, how he only plays them once, etc. Think it’s also included in the recording.

    He also did a Sugar cover with Bob Mould, “If I Can’t Change Your Mind” at the same show.

  5. They’ve also done Elvis Costello’s “Kinder Murder:”

    I think they’ve done “Accidents Will Happen” as well, but I could be wrong.

  6. I saw Ben perform a few that are not listed, and I can’t find them anywhere on the internet because the venue “Largo” in LA doesn’t allow recordings of any type.

    On 4/10/10, Ben played piano and sang “Brand New Shoes” by She & Him.

    On 12/22/10, Ben performed with Beauty Shop (Zooey Deschanel & The Chapin Sisters):
    Jesus Christ by Alex Chilton
    Last Christmas I Gave You My Heart
    He played guitar on Silver Bells & Little St Nick
    I remember him singing and shaking bells with the entire group during the encore – Deck the Halls, We Wish You a Merry Christmas, & Joy to the World. These are covers, right? :)

  7. Here’s the Mountain Goats cover post-blacking out the friction:

  8. Probably my favorite cover of his was Squeeze’s Up The Junction. He played it at The Showbox in Seattle on May 20, 2007, at the very least.!/item/bs2w/Ben+Gibbard+-+Up+The+Junction+Squeeze+cover+live+

  9. Whoa cool! Perfect timing on the cover video I posted on YouTube this morning….of DCFC!

  10. Crazy, I just posted a cover of “Tiny Vessels” a few days ago:

  11. jesus christ.

  12. Does it make me needlessly nerdy if I suggest the “John Vanderslice” cover is actually an MK Ultra cover?

  13. I have one of the songs that isn’t online. I don’t where I would post it though.

  14. I uploaded Gleemer/I Was A Kaleidoscope to SoundCloud if anyone is interested.

  15. great article. CD or downloads available?

  16. Thanks for all the tips. I’ll be adding those few dozen more streams in the next few days.

  17. I have some more..

    I Hate to See You Cry

    Web in Front – Archers of Loaf (I don’t think this one was listed)

    Up the Junction – Squeeze (this was already on youtube and one of my favorite covers)

  18. forgot one of my favourites: Ben covering Gone for Good

  19. Is that clip from Hungry Like the Wolf from Death Cab’s brief stint as the Transatlantic Orchestra at Bumbershoot a few years back (complete with Mike Doughty and Lemony Snicket)? I’m guessing a full version doesn’t exist…well..anywhere, does it?

  20. I happened to have the cover of Shiver holds by the prom if anyone’s interested here’s the link:

  21. what about that postal service cover of that song about the fireflies…..oh wait a minute…whoops….

  22. you have 26 is too long and $100 room down but $100 room is actually 26 is too long. maybe its just mislabeled and he didn’t cover $100 room, or someone posted the wrong link.

  23. Decent cover of Stone Roses if you can overlook the fact that the guitarist bungles most of the great guitar in that song – pity.

  24. Probably seems like you opened a can a worms, what with the deluge of corrections but I am delighted you did. There are genuine gems in that list — as well as some eye rollers. But hey! These guys prove over and over again that they truly enjoy the art of making music — even if some of the results AREN’T the best things anyone’s ever heard. The point is that they don’t forget to have fun and bring that fun to their fans.

    A Death Cab makeover of the Partridge Family songbook might be just what this world needs right now. Echo Valley 2-6809, anyone?

  25. CCR cover is actually “Fortunate Son”, not song.

  26. The Richard Buckner cover is Blue and Wonder, off the album Bloomed- classic album and song.

  27. Here’s a youtube of Grow Old With Me:

  28. For some reason you posted the wrong audio for the Bjork tune: It should be this:

  29. This collection is awesome, for the novelty and the quality, so thank you! I noticed this article is titled for download, but I can’t seem to find a download option (and I’ve been looking!). Am I just missing it?

  30. Yeah, I wish I could download all that too

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