Songs From the Lineup: Capital Cities’ “Safe and Sound”

Songs From the Lineup is a series that unpacks the musical lineup of the Life Is Beautiful Music & Art Festival through individual songs by the featured artists. Look for weekly installments at dtlv.com/songsfromthelineup, right up through the festival in September.

Perhaps no Capital Cities song is quite so buoyant, bouncy and infectiously upbeat as the Los Angeles–based duo’s 2011 single “Safe and Sound.” Certainly no track of theirs has had as much play on Spotify, with more than 305 million streams and counting. I can tell you that at least a few thousand of those were me.

“Safe and Sound” first injected itself into my consciousness when I caught a Capital Cities performance at the finish line for the 2012 Downtown Las Vegas GlowRun in mid-October of that year. It was one of those songs that, from the first notes,  imprinted so instantly and completely, it was as if I’d always known and adored it. For the next few weeks, whenever I heard it, my spirits were lifted. I was effervescent and taller, even.

Photo by Piper Ferguson

When Hurricane Sandy careened like a blind-drunk slam dancer into New York that October 29, it not only annihilated my plans to fly home to surprise my father on his birthday, but also deposited a large oak tree onto my childhood home’s roof. Power lines were downed everywhere and information was lacking. My parents charged their phones off the car battery so they could stay in contact and up-to-date on news until finally the lack of heat and electricity sent them fleeing to a hotel for two weeks.

And there I was, thousands of miles away in Las Vegas, safe and sound.

Suddenly, the lighthearted song took on a more serious tone: “Even if the sky is falling down /I know that we’ll be safe and sound … We’re safe and sound (Hold your ground).” I posted the lyrics on my Facebook page and dedicated them to my dad for his birthday. And then I dramatically ramped up my listening—multiple doses taken daily at regular intervals. It was the only thing that could puncture the deep funk I was in and get me functioning again until they were back in the house, also safe and sound.

Which they were, soon enough. The roof was repaired, the power and heat were restored, and life moved on. In time, other songs naturally overtook “Safe and Sound” in my favorites playlist, tracks by other Life Is Beautiful acts, in fact (hi, Haim!). But when those familiar first beats drop—along with tracks from Capital Cities’ latest album, Swimming Pool Summer—I’ll dance and smile and remember all the times I let the reassuring, eternally hopeful words of Sebu Simonian and Ryan Merchant lift me up.

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