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Death Cab for Cutie - You Are a Tourist - Lyrics Meaning

This song was the first single released from Death Cab for Cutie's seventh album, Codes and Keys in 2011. The album has marked as a slight departure from the band's typically darker themes, but some of their trademark melancholia still remains. You Are a Tourist is indicative of this as the song urges the listener to trust in one's self and search for your own path. The lead singer, Ben Gibbard, encourages his audience to seek that path and persevere through any self doubt that might derail your progress along the way. Avoiding the fears of the unknown is the central theme of this song and by doing so you will control the direction of your life, instead of being a tourist or spectator watching from the sideline. It is a call to take charge of your life.

The last stanza of the song really hammers home this idea of finding one's own path. When Gibbard refers to the listener as a "...a villain in the story you have written" he is saying that finding yourself may require you to make unpopular decisions. These may be difficult for others to understand, but the end justifies the means and everyone needs a little redemption at some point in their lives. The happiness that comes from owning your life will be your redemption.

Meanings of other songs by Death Cab for Cutie:
Crooked Teeth
I Will Possess Your Heart