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A Tour Guide to Anberlin’s CITIES

Read the revised version of this feature on my site: mattrmetzler.com/2013/05/11/a-tour-guide-to-anberlins-cities/I apologize for the inconvenience.


42 thoughts on “A Tour Guide to Anberlin’s CITIES

  1. incredible job! this is my favourite anberlin album too. im just amazed that you wrote and compiled this so well! you did awesome! enjoyed reading the whole lot! by the way, stephen christian posted this onto his twitter so im sure youll get great (and well deserved) coverage!

    Posted by chris | April 7, 2010, 11:24 am
  2. Thank you for collaboring all this information and writing so beautifully. It’s wonderful to read details on (in my opinion) one of the best records ever created. It was a delight to read and will be bookmarked for future reading! Well done.

    Posted by Chloe | April 7, 2010, 11:43 am
  3. Thank you so much for putting this project together. It was an amazing read and truly inspiring. I’ve been a fan of Anberlin since the release of Blueprints, but have never dug this deep. I’m greatful for your work and for such a wonderful album. God Bless.

    Posted by Chris Fisher | April 7, 2010, 11:44 am
  4. Thanks for all the hard work. The only thing I am still wondering is how to pronounce *Fin.

    Posted by dryan | April 7, 2010, 12:39 pm
  5. I’m the kind of person that thinks music, or really any kind of art, is all about interpretation. It’s not always about the original intention of the song. I’ve listened to this album a hundred times over and developed my own ideas of it, and I love being able to hear what the artist was thinking when the song was written.

    Posted by Kelsi | April 7, 2010, 12:56 pm
    • Very awesome blog. This is my favorite Anberlin album. I heard it during a very dark time in my life; when my health and entire life just seemed to fall apart… and as cliche as it sounds, it helped lift me up and keep me company when I felt very alone. I guess I could consider their music as somewhat of a therapy during that time… it taught me to stand strong despite my circumstances.

      It’s not from Cities, but I actually used their song Soft Skeletons to make a video for MS Awareness Week last month. Thought I’d pass it along to a crowd that might appreciate it. :-) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tr2AGyxl_NY

      Keep up the great work with the blog!

      Posted by Morethanalive | April 7, 2010, 1:13 pm
  6. Dude, this is AWESOME!!! You won’t believe this but I was lying in bed last night listening to A Whisper & A Clamor and wondering what this song was really about. I knew about the one line in there but I was actually thinking about the meaning to these songs last night!

    Posted by budgettravelsac | April 7, 2010, 1:23 pm
  7. Wow. Neatest thing ever. Thank you so much for taking the time to put this together! It’s really neat to see the actual intention behind the songs, especially because this is my favorite Anberlin album they’ve done so far. There’s so much more information about the album than I thought. There’s really a depth to the album unlike anything Stephen has written in the other albums, and it’s amazing to actually know what was running through his head. Truly a great songwriter, and truly a great band.

    Posted by Alissa | April 7, 2010, 1:26 pm
  8. Thank you so much. I have been reading around for so long looking for something like this. It is much appreciated.

    Posted by Clinton | April 7, 2010, 1:37 pm
  9. Wow, that was a really amazing job you did. Some of my all-time favorite Anberlin songs are on the album Cities, and it gives those songs so much more meaning for me now that I know what Stephen was thinking and feeling when he wrote them. By reading the information and insights you have compiled, my love for those songs and this album has grown stronger, if that is even possible. So what I’m trying to say is, thank you; your work is greatly appreciated :)

    Posted by Ashley | April 7, 2010, 1:53 pm
  10. Wow, this is incredible! Such a wealth of information about one of my favorite albums of all-time. “Dismantle. Repair.” is probably my favorite song by Anberlin or any artist, for that matter, so it was really cool to read the quotes and the blog post that was the inspiration for it. And I found the information about “(*Fin)” to be very enlightening. I’m really glad you posted this…I have a feeling I’ll be coming back again and again to read this!

    Posted by Jesse | April 7, 2010, 1:58 pm
  11. hey this was really cool to read. like you said at the end, I already have my own meanings for the songs, but it was cool to learn more about them. I really appreciate the time and work you put into this. the best part for me was reading the blog post that inspired Dismantle.Repair.

    thanks again

    Posted by Greg | April 7, 2010, 2:00 pm
  12. Thank you so much! I’ve been listening to this album all day reading along. This is amazing. Thanks for all your work to get this together! :D

    Posted by Kevin | April 7, 2010, 2:32 pm
  13. Thanks for creating this.
    ‘Cities’ changed my life.. this only enhanced the true meaning of the album to me!

    Posted by Matt | April 7, 2010, 3:50 pm
  14. This. Is the most incredible summary I’ve ever ready about this album. It seems like this was such a pivotal album for the band, as it was for the listeners. Hands down the best album to date.

    Posted by Brian | April 7, 2010, 3:53 pm
  15. Oh, man.

    Nice, nice, beautiful job with this. Cities is my favorite cd of all time, and it’s easily the most confusing as well..

    My favorite song from the cd changes all the time. Dismantle.Repair. relates to my life over the last year, as my parent’s were in a pretty devastating divorce and I just seemed to stumble upon this song in the midst of all of this.

    Favorite lyric? Easily the bridge from The Unwinding Cable Car, where Stephen’s saying, “You’re so brilliant, don’t soon forget!” or the end of (*Fin)

    If they had released Adelaide for the third single, their success would have sky-rocketed, as it is often interpreted as to be about a girl. That’s how I saw it, too, until this. ;D But seeing as it’s really NOT about a girl, I’m kind of glad that they didn’t release it, because that would have been giving people the wrong impression. Maybe Dismantle.Repair., though. A lot of people would find hope in the lines “Things are going to change now, for the better..”

    Again, great job.

    Posted by Victoria | April 7, 2010, 6:09 pm
  16. Thanks for going to the effort and putting all this together. It is greatly appreciated. The timing was just right I think.

    Posted by James | April 7, 2010, 6:20 pm
  17. Amazing stuff, I’ve grown a deeper appreciation for Cities thanks to this guide [= keep up the great work!

    Posted by Sam | April 7, 2010, 8:55 pm
  18. Hey man awesome job!! I could relate to what you said many times! I was wondering if it would be ok to translate your text to portuguese?! Anberlin just passed through Brazil and Stephen put your link on Twitter, so if you don´t have a problem I would like to translate it!


    Posted by Diego | April 7, 2010, 11:27 pm
  19. Wow im glad you did decide to place all this information in one place.

    I had the article open the whole day (after hearing of it on twitter) and took possibly hours referring back to it whilst doing other things, and switching between reading this, reading the lyrics, looking at interviews, reading articles from the modesty writers guild etc.

    It definitely breathes new life into the album. One of my favorite parts was reading about Stephen purposely doing the half smile in the promo shot, so subtle, I would love to hear of any other hidden things like that.

    Posted by Melody | April 8, 2010, 2:49 am
  20. that was amazing. thank you so much for sharing with us the fruits of your labor. it’s much appreciated :]

    Posted by lyricalstories | April 8, 2010, 4:47 am
  21. Wow. This was very insightful. I enjoyed it very much. Thank you

    Posted by Caitlin | April 8, 2010, 11:36 am
  22. Great job! I consider this album a central part of my life, and I really appreciate your work. I am definitely bookmarking this page, and I will print it out just in case. My favorite song is “Hello Alone,” as I’ve always considered it a defense against American middle class apathy, and I love screaming “Do they care at all!!?” at the top of my lungs.

    Thank you!

    Posted by Josh Malone | April 8, 2010, 12:03 pm
  23. There are few people who love music enough to do this and at the same time can write well enough to make it readable and enjoyable. Thank you.

    Posted by joshuahedlund | April 8, 2010, 3:28 pm
  24. thank you so much for this interview. it gives me a new perspective from the whole album. i’m wondering will you collect other interviews from other albums, or other bands? i’d like to read all that. so thanks again…

    Posted by zsotya | April 8, 2010, 3:37 pm
  25. This was a wonderful “guide” there were some things I had already read, and there was a lot of stuff I didn’t know. You’ve done a great job and this will add SO much more to the listening experience I’m about to do. Thanks a lot

    Posted by jONO | April 8, 2010, 4:11 pm
  26. Thanks for such a great article! Well done! Anberlin is such a great band. “The Unwinding Cable Car” is pretty much my favorite song of all time. Thanks again; I really enjoyed reading this!

    Posted by Rose West | April 8, 2010, 5:40 pm
  27. This made me cry. In a good way.

    Cities is the most important album to me. It is my favorite album. It has shaped so much of me and so much how I live.
    It saved my life.

    I have to admit, I’m too lazy to try to find all of these articles to find out what Stephen’s inspiration was. I love knowing the reason songs were written and this was just so helpful.

    *Fin is an epic song. Knowing how Stephen felt about writing that song….to me that’s incredible. I’ve felt the same way in my own life. This awful pull of believing in God or not… To looking to Christ and not Christians (cause Christians fuck up, oh do they really mess up).

    I have part of Alexithmia (there’s more to living than being alive) tattooed on me. This has become my life motto. I think that’s why this album means to me. I was stuck inside such a suicidal hole. After realizing I didn’t want to die this line hit me and instead of always thinking to myself “well, at least you’re still alive”, now I think there’s even MORE out there than just continuing to drudge through this life.
    Right now, I’m still on my journey to find my “more”. I need to find my purpose, my goal and this blog post was an important reminder to me to do so.

    Thanks for posting it.

    Posted by Rachel | April 8, 2010, 8:30 pm
  28. First off, thanks so much for putting this together. It really brought the album to a whole new light and renewed my appreciation for Stephen Christian’s songwriting capabilties and made me admire him as a person.
    What impresses me the most about the album as a whole is that because he puts so much of himself in the songs, it also increases the amount I as a listener relate to the lyrics.

    Posted by Sarah | April 8, 2010, 9:23 pm
  29. Thank you so much for deciding to share this. I’m a HUGE Anberlin fan, and some of this information I had already been a bit familiar with, but to have it all compiled and solidified (and with Stephen’s actual words, no less!) is just incredible. Again, thank you for sharing this!

    Posted by MusicGal | April 9, 2010, 10:49 am
  30. Great! Very nice! Just a question: if the shole song Inevitable is about his brother (except for the chorus), what is the “Amazing how life turn out/The way that it does/We end up hurting the worst/The only ones we really love” part about? I really didn’t get it.

    Posted by Lucas Martins | April 9, 2010, 11:49 am
  31. matt, this is amazing! Thank you so much for publishing it! I think you should do the same with the other albuns, as well, or, at least, with Uncanny, the bonus track for Cities.
    Seriously, that was awesome.

    Posted by Vanessa | April 9, 2010, 4:09 pm
  32. Hey I just want to say thank you for researching the album cities and explaining behind the lyrics of each of the songs, I really enjoyed reading it. I love this album as well as the bands newest album “New Surrender, those are the two best cd’s the band ever recorded, in my opinion. I actually like practically the whole cd; since I have alot of favorites on the cd “Cities”, I am just going to mention 3 of them. The first one I am going to mention is *Fin…if I had to pick only one song that I really like from the band anberlin, it would be this song, because I can really relate to the lyrics. The Second song would be, “Unwinding Cable Car”; this song is soooo inspiring to me, It helped me to see that even though things in life are hard, you shouldn’t give up. God has a future for you, and even though we may not know what that is, we should still press on to reach are goals. The third song would be “Alexithymia”, this song is another song that I could really relate to.

    Posted by Tabitha Reilly | April 10, 2010, 9:17 am
  33. I was thrilled when I came across your blog, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it! Thank you for spending the time to compile information about such an incredible album. Anberlin is my absolute favorite band and this is my favorite record of theirs. Awesome job, keep up the good work!

    Posted by laurelsaia | April 11, 2010, 4:54 pm
  34. Great job with this writeup. Thanks for sharing!

    Posted by Daniel | April 11, 2010, 7:33 pm
  35. That’s probably one of the best things I have ever read. And it really brought out the points of the album that people aren’t so sure about. I loved it!

    Cities is an album that gets under your skin and stays there. The words, the music, the way Anberlin put it all together, and the way they’re performed is so inspirational, especially if people actually sit down and go through the meanings of the songs. Personally it’s been amazing for me to have found Anberlin, right as they released Cities. It was a turning point for me. The songs made me sit down and think about what Stephen was trying to say, and realise so many things I didn’t see about my own life, and everything around me. They still do, actually.

    I’m glad someone else was able to put so much thought into the album. Such a good review of such a good album.

    Posted by Divya | April 12, 2010, 11:25 pm
  36. thanks for taking the time to put this together. Cities is one of my favorite albums and I thought this was really interesting.

    Posted by Rick | April 13, 2010, 7:01 pm
  37. For years I’ve listened to this album and heard what Stephen said and I had my ideas on what he was really saying, but I couldn’t put all the pieces together. I read other peoples ideas on the album but none of it seemed to be completely right. There was always something missing and I couldn’t figure it out..

    This project was kind of like the end of a really interesting and hard to understand movie. You watch the movie and you’re fascinated with it and you want to understand all of it, but there are those missing pieces.. so you can’t really put the puzzle together. and then there’s the last scene that puts it all place. The last scene that makes you understand the movie and makes you love it even more. To me this project is that last scene! I didn’t think it was possible, but I love this album even more after reading this! And I respect Stephen even more. Especially for being so open about everything.

    This is and will always be one of the best albums I’ve ever heard.

    Posted by Esther | June 21, 2010, 9:09 am
  38. I love this post so much! Thank you for demystifying the album!
    “Cities” has been my absolute favorite album since early 2008. I relate to its heaviness. I’ve been told that the early 20s are the hardest years of one’s life. I believe it, I’ve felt it. This album is a testament to self discovery, and exploration into the world and where one fits in it.
    Reclusion, dismantle.repair. , and Alexithymia are my favorites.
    “there’s more to living than being alive.” is my favorite lyric. There is a purpose for life. I get so hung up on self that I forget my purpose (to serve and live for my Creator). I love/hate the line you gave from Stephen: “If you want to spend the rest of your life in a recliner, you can.” Its so true, and so disgusting. I’m definitely guilty of this.

    Posted by Heidi | October 25, 2010, 8:11 pm

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