The song, titled “Only Love,” is a breezy track that has been a long time coming for the two artists.
“I had been a fan of Ben’s work for a long time when, in 2016, I had the chance to do a remix for Death Cab for Cutie’s track ‘The Ghosts of Beverly Drive,’” Scott Hansen, a.k.a. Tycho, said in a statement. “Ben’s voice was a very inspiring element to work with from a production standpoint; I felt it really meshed well with the kinds of sounds and instrumentation I gravitate toward.”
Hansen first created “Only Love” as an instrumental, but felt that a crucial element was missing. “I sent a rough demo to Ben and he recorded some vocals over it,” he said. “The first time I heard the rough vocals the whole song suddenly made sense and the arrangement flowed out of that. After my early experimentations with vocals on Weather, this felt like a great opportunity to put everything I had learned during that process into practice. It was certainly an honor to be able to work with such an iconic voice.”
Gibbard recalled that the lyrics and message of “Only Love” were inspired by a section of Naomi Klein’s book This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate, that Gibbard read in 2014.
“I came across a quote from Montanan goat rancher and environmentalist Alexis Bonogofsky that moved me immensely,” Gibbard said. “Speaking about the fight to protect public lands in southeastern Montana from the mining company Arch Coal, she said: ‘(The) connection to this place and the love people have for it, that’s what Arch Coal doesn’t get. They underestimate that. They don’t understand it so they disregard it. And that’s what in the end will save that place. It’s not the hatred for the coal companies or anger, but love will save this place.’”
He continued: “When Scott sent me the music for ‘Only Love,’ it seemed perfect for this statement. Since reading Alexis’ words, I’ve carried them as a universal truth; that the only way we preserve the people, places, or things we care for is with love, not hatred. This is often easier said than done, of course. But I find myself coming back to her statement as if it were a mantra. I grew up hiking and camping on public lands here in Washington State and my love for them has only increased since becoming a mountain/ultra/trail runner. They were in the forefront of my mind while working on this song.”