Death Cab for Cutie have never shied away from bold cover songs, but arguably the most unexpected one of their career arrived last month: a stripped-back rendition of “Waterfalls” by TLC. They brought that cover to life on Tuesday night when they stopped by Jimmy Kimmel Live to play a socially distanced live set. Watch a replay of it below.
“Waterfalls” is one of five different cover songs Death Cab for Cutie recorded for The Georgia EP, a digital collection benefitting Stacey Abrams’ voting organization Fair Fight Action ahead of the Georgia senate runoff election. On that EP, Ben Gibbard and company put their own spin on R.E.M. (“Fall on Me”), Neutral Milk Hotel (“The King of Carrot Flowers, Pt. 1”), and Cat Power (“Metal Heart”), in addition to one gut-wrenching Vic Chesnutt pick (“Flirted with You All My Life”).
Although that reads like a very random list of musicians to cover, it was carefully chosen by the band to represent the wide range of artists based in Georgia. The way they saw it, it was another opportunity to raise even more money for Fair Fight after contributing to a benefit compilation in its honor — the aptly titled Good Music to Avert the Collapse of American Democracy — back in September.
Arguably nobody in Death Cab for Cutie was more prepared to break out a cover song on TV than Gibbard. The frontman spent last year performing songs by seemingly everyone under the sun, including Minor Threat, Phoebe Bridgers, Radiohead, and of course The Beatles. No wonder his idea of what “Life Under Quarantine” sounds like was so melodic.