"A Diamond and a Tether" as written by and Benjamin Gibbard....
Pity, take pity on me.
Cause I'm not half the man that I should be.
Always turning to run,
From the people I should not be afraid of.

And darling, you should know
That I have fantasies about being alone.
It's like love is a lesson,
That I can't learn.
I make the same mistakes at each familiar turn.

I know you can't hold out forever
Waiting on a diamond and a tether
From a boy who won't swim
But who will dip his toe in
Just to keep you here with him.

I've got this habit I abhor.
When we go out I'm always watching the door.
Cause if there's someone I'm gonna see
Who could outdo the things you do to me.

And I know you can't hold out forever
Waiting on a diamond and a tether
From a boy who won't fly
But who will take to the skies if he thinks you are about to say goodbye.

Pity, take pity on me.
Cause I'm not half the man that I should be.
And I don't blame you,
You've had enough,
Of all these empty promises and countless bluffs.

Cause I know you can't hold out forever
Waiting on a diamond and a tether
From a boy who won't jump when he falls in love.
He just stands with his toes on the edge
And he waits for it do disappear again.


Lyrics submitted by dlt1987

"A Diamond and a Tether [Version]" as written by Benjamin Gibbard

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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A Diamond and a Tether song meanings
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21 Comments

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  • +2
    Song MeaningSomeone has commitment issues.
    It's okay, Ben.
    We understand.
    annamocityon March 26, 2009   Link
  • +2
    General Commentits:

    From a boy who won't swim
    But who will dip his toe in
    Just to keep you here with him

    and

    From a boy who won't fly
    But who will take to the skies
    If he thinks you're about to say goodbye

    Great song. Gibbard once again proves hes a musical genius and can paint amazing images with his words
    sych0on March 31, 2009   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI love this song so much. The last line always makes me sad. "And he waits for it to disappear again". I always think of a guy who really does love a girl, but is in denial, and doesn't want to commit or get to close, because he always thinks that he will leave her. But in truth it's the non-committing that destroys their relationship.
    Bootscooperon May 16, 2009   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationMy fav. song off of Open Door. This is how I interpret it:
    -Relationship after half-hearted relationship, he seems to fall into the same pattern: loses interest and dreams of being single/ being with girls with more to offer.
    -Meanwhile, the girl is waiting for him to commit to marriage (the diamond) which he sees more as a ball and chain (a tether).
    - As soon as he feels like he's going to lose her, he temporarily puts just enough energy and passion into it to keep her there (From a boy who won't fly..But who will take to the sky ..if I think you're about to say goodbye).
    Saw him in concert last week and they did this song. Totally amazing.
    Squimpyon May 08, 2009   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationThis song is about commitment issues but it's a little more complicated.

    The person seems to be willing to make small commitments, as a last resort as you can see at the end of every chorus when he contradicts himself like

    "From a boy who won't swim
    But who will take to the skies
    If he thinks you're about to say goodbye "

    or

    "From a boy who won't swim
    But who will dip his toe in
    Just to keep you here with him"

    He is willing to do small things that he doesn't like to keep the relationship going, however the last chorus is different, in that he ultimately doesn't do the thing that would save it.

    "From a boy who won't jump
    When he falls in love
    He just stands with his toes on the edge
    And he waits for it to disappear again"

    The jump seems to be an obvious reference to a leap of faith, or a large commitment significantly more dangerous and frightening than the ones before it. This could be getting married, moving in, or simply saying I love you. The point is, when it comes time for a leap of faith, that is one thing he refuses to do to save the relationship.
    zidididaneon May 08, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe first time I heard this last fall, I told myself two things:

    1. It is THE saddest song I have ever heard

    2. It is one of the top 5 greatest DCFC songs. EVER.

    I admit that I put this song on repeat over and over again upon hearing it for the first time. Of course, I have been having love problems for sometime and I was in the mood for it, but nonetheless, I still consider it one of Gibbard's masterpieces. The interpretation I had is basically the same as all of yours, so there's no sense in me saying the same thing haha :P but I will say that this song is one of those that is truly captivating and will always be a favorite of mine.
    kch15on March 08, 2010   Link
  • +1
    Song MeaningIt is clear that the song involves commitment problems, but I would argue that the song truly centers on the failure to not give into fear and take the risk for love. I disagree with those that say he can’t commit because he doesn’t fully love the girl. It is true that it says: "As if there's someone I'm going to see / Who could out-do the things that you do to me". But he mentions that this is "habit I abhor". This is also supported by the fact that the song never mentions the faults of the girl but centers on the faults of the singer, and his understanding that she "can't hold out forever" ("And I don't blame you, you've had enough"). This shows that he isn’t disappointed in her, but himself and blames only himself for it. Thus I disagree that he fails to commit because of a lack of love. Instead, I think he fails to commit because of fear. This is shown in these lyrics: "I'm always turning to run / From the people I should not be afraid of". This is also supported by the fact that in every chorus, the action ("swim", "fly", and "jump") involves an element of risk that he ends up failing to do because of fear.
    dcatndhaton April 16, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI agree with annamocity
    ethanhammockon April 02, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Commenta guy who's half-hearted towards his relationship, and is just waiting on a "better" opportunity; only mustering the effort when suspects he's about to lose her.

    pretty straightforward lyrics, but with clever metaphors in true gibbard-style.
    lizzie88on April 09, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Commentin my interpretation, this boy obviously cannot commit, despite the fact that he really cares about this certain girl, maybe even to the extent that he thinks he really loves her. he may never have felt this way before so he gets scared and leaves her to be with other girls yet always comes back to her, and she always accepts it. the girl finally realizes that she cannot take his on and off feelings with her, and decides to leave him. the boy wants her to "take pity" on him because he knows he doesn't want to be this way but doesn't know how to really commit and keeps making mistakes with her: "It's like love is a lesson that I can't learn so I make the same mistakes at each familiar turn." he understands that she cannot always hold out for him and that he's fucked up so many times that enough is enough. the last few lines of the last stanza is is particularly strong because although the boy realizes he may really be in love, he doesn't know what to do with it, so he waits for it to merely disappear.

    i can completely relate to this song.
    sgs791on June 01, 2009   Link

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