A Tour Guide to Anberlin’s “Cities”

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Adelaide

Following the heaviest song on the album is the poppiest song on the album. While it may sound like a sequencing disaster on paper, I think it’s a testament to the band’s musicianship that the leap from “Godspeed” to “Adelaide” sounds natural and engaging. A could’ve-been single for sure, this song isn’t what it may seem: it’s not actually about a girl.

STEPHEN SAYS: “It’s a very bitter song about my own lack of self-discipline; for the longest time I was absolutely co-dependent on those I was in a relationship with.” [10] “I would put on this facade of like, ‘Oh, I’ve got everything figured out, I can handle this all by myself,’ but in all reality, I realized that I was completely co-dependent, and I was the one with the half-smile.” [2]

“If you notice, in the Cities promo shot, I tried to ‘half-smile’ so that people knew that the song was about me, and not someone from the small town in Australia.  No one picked up on it.” [10]

On the title: “There is no girl named Adelaide, it’s really just me. Adelaide is the first city that we got to see in Australia. It was our first show ever in Australia, so that’s how I came up with the name. It was just about my lack of confidence, about my own insecurities, and I was kind of like exposing it but if I make it sound like it’s about someone else, it doesn’t hurt so much, it’s not as chest-opening and heart-on-sleeve, you know?” [2]

A Whisper & A Clamor

This song introduces one of the album’s most important themes, as mentioned in the introduction above: “I’ve grown tired of writing songs where people listen but never hear what’s really going on.” I had the hardest time fully grasping this song, and for a while, I skipped this track more than any other song on the album. I guess it was kind of ironic in a way, that this was the song that urged understanding, and it was the most difficult song for me to understand. My confusion mainly stemmed from the title and the chorus – I didn’t understand what the line “there’s a clamor in your whispering” was supposed to mean. Thankfully, this was one of the first pieces of information I found when I started working on this project, and after hearing what Stephen had to say about the song, everything clicked. Now, it’s one of my favorite songs from Cities.

STEPHEN SAYS: “I felt like a lot of people in our generation, and in America, in North America as a whole, it feels like they’re just asleep. We as Americans have very good intentions, we want to help, but instead of helping we kind of throw money at the problem. We’ll come up and say, ‘Man, I cannot believe the homeless problem in this town… you want to go to Starbucks? You want to hang out?’ It’s a fleeting thought. To me, it’s just bedside resolve, a bedside revolution. ‘Let’s talk about it, but you know what, I’m not going to do anything about it, it’s something I think about but it’s nothing I’ll act upon.’ Gandhi said, ‘Become the change that you wish to see in the world.’ We don’t want to become that change, we just want to talk about changing it, or we want to have our good intentions say that something should be done about it.” [2]

“So it feels like it’s time that this whisper becomes an actual clamor; instead of just whispering about it, just something under our breath, it needs to be something that’s shouted from the rooftops. We need to solve problems, we need to go out there and stop just talking about doing it, we actually need to put some action behind it.” [2]