A Tour Guide to Anberlin’s “Cities”

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I was a little conflicted after I began compiling all this information, because in a way, I feel like publishing all of these quotes and all this information in one place is like passing out the answer key to a big test. I was afraid that I could be ruining it for other people. After all, I enjoyed the time I spent searching for all these answers immensely, and I’m not sure if I would’ve gotten this much out of it if I had simply found every single answer I was looking for in one place. But in the end, I decided that I wanted to share what I found, because I think it’s enlightening and inspiring, and I think it could inspire others to start exploring their own favorite albums more deeply.

I know that most lyricists probably feel a little nervous about revealing the inspiration to their songs, because it’s just as important for listeners to determine the meaning for themselves and to apply it to their own lives as it is for them to understand the specific events that caused the writer to pen the words in the first place. That being said, this album was released three years before this was published, and most people reading this have, I hope, already decided what these songs mean to them individually, and have already formed a sizable handful of memories around this album. And what’s better than rediscovering a long lost friend and adding a new dimension to the mix? That, in the end, is what I hope a reader will gain from this: a newfound sense of appreciation and understanding for an incredibly meaningful and enjoyable album.

Thank you for joining me on this tour.

If you somehow managed to read this entire article and you’ve never heard Cities, needless to say, I think you should check it out, pronto.


Here are links to all the interviews and websites where I found this information. As you might’ve noticed, I relied pretty heavily on the second link – it’s an incredible site, and this project never would’ve panned out if I hadn’t found this site. It features tons of audio snippets from interviews with Stephen, but in between the time I began writing this and the time I finally wrapped it up, they converted into a membership-based site. I can’t complain much about that at all, because you can still hear about half of each interview for free, one full interview only costs 99 cents, and most of that money goes to a charity that you pick out yourself, so if you want to hear where a lot of these quotes came from, I definitely suggest checking that out. Also, I did clean up some of the quotes a little bit to make them read easier, especially the quotes that came from audio interviews, because Stephen tends to ramble and wander off from his train of thought at times. Nothing was taken out of context, though; I promise that I was a fair and careful transcriber.

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-Matt R. Metzler, revised on May 11, 2013