Kettering by The Antlers: A Deep Dive into the Lyrics and Meaning

If you’re a fan of indie rock, you’ve probably heard of The Antlers. And if you haven’t listened to their breakout album “Hospice,” you’re missing out on one of the genre’s most emotionally charged works.

At the heart of this powerful album is “Kettering,” a hauntingly beautiful track that has left audiences stunned and captivated since its release in 2009. With poetic lyrics that explore dark themes of loss, pain, and mortality, it’s a song that holds a deep, resonant power that has left many listeners wondering about its true meaning.

In this blog post, we’re going to take a deep dive into “Kettering” by The Antlers. We’ll explore the lyrics, the chords, and the live performances of the song to uncover its deepest secrets. Whether you’re a longtime fan or a curious newcomer, this post will give you a comprehensive understanding of why “Kettering” is such a powerful and enduring piece of music. So, let’s put on our headphones, turn up the volume, and get ready to listen.

The Antlers Kettering Live

If you’re a fan of indie rock, then you’ve probably heard of The Antlers. This Brooklyn-based band is known for their emotive and cathartic brand of music that explores themes of love, loss, and loneliness. One of their most popular songs is “Kettering,” the opening track from their 2009 album “Hospice.” In this subsection, we’re going to explore the live version of “Kettering” and why it’s so powerful.

The Emotional Power of “Kettering”

“Kettering” is a haunting song that explores the pain of losing a loved one to cancer. The lyrics are raw and vulnerable, with lead singer Peter Silberman’s falsetto delivering lines like “I wish that I had known in that first minute we met, the unpayable debt that I owed you.” The instrumentation is equally haunting, with layered guitars and atmospheric synths adding to the sense of unease.

But it’s in the live version of “Kettering” where the emotional power of the song really shines. When performed live, the band extends the song’s instrumental outro, allowing Silberman to scream and wail in anguish. The audience is often silent during this part of the song, as if collectively holding their breath in anticipation of the cathartic release that’s to come.

What Makes the Live Version Special?

So, what is it about the live version of “Kettering” that makes it so special? Here are a few key takeaways:

  • The Energy of the Crowd: There’s something electric about being in a room full of people who are all there to see the same band. The energy of the crowd can elevate a live performance and make it feel transcendent.

  • The Improvisational Nature of Live Music: No two live performances are exactly the same. Musicians can improvise and deviate from the recorded versions of their songs, creating a unique experience for each audience.

  • The Intimacy of the Performance: When a band is standing just a few feet away from you, it creates a sense of intimacy that can be hard to replicate through a pair of headphones.

The Bottom Line

The live version of “Kettering” is a prime example of why live music can be so powerful. If you’re a fan of The Antlers or just appreciate good music in general, we highly recommend checking out their live performances of “Kettering.” You won’t be disappointed.

Prologue: Understanding the Antlers Lyrics

The Antlers are a band that’s known for their emotionally charged lyrics that can make you feel all the feels. One song that stands out is “Kettering,” which has some of the most profound lyrics in their repertoire. But before we dive into the meaning behind the song, let’s take a moment to explore the band and their style.

Who are The Antlers?

The Antlers are an American indie rock band that formed in Brooklyn, New York, in 2006. The band consists of Peter Silberman (vocals, guitar), Darby Cicci (trumpet, keyboards), and Michael Lerner (drums). They have released five studio albums and a handful of EPs, with “Hospice” being their most acclaimed album to date.

What’s their style?

The Antlers’ musical style is a blend of indie rock and experimental pop. Their songs often feature atmospheric sounds, intricate rhythms, and layered instrumentation. They are known for tackling heavy topics such as illness, death, and loss through their lyrics and music.

What is Kettering?

“Kettering” is a song from The Antlers’ third studio album, “Hospice,” which was released in 2009. The song is the third track on the album and has become one of the band’s most popular and recognizable songs.

The Antlers Lyrics

Now that we have a basic understanding of who The Antlers are and what their style is let’s go deeper into their lyrics, specifically “Kettering.”

In the following lines, I will break down some of the song’s most striking lyrics:

  • “I wish that I had known in that first minute we met, the unpayable debt that I owed you.”
    This line speaks about a sense of regret and hindsight that the narrator experiences. They wish that they had appreciated the person they are talking about more when they first met.

  • “You’re screaming at the ceiling and whispering to the floor, I know because I do the same thing.”
    Here, the narrator acknowledges that they are not the only one who is dealing with intense emotions. They empathize with the person they are talking about and understand that they are going through something similar.

  • “I think you’re projecting your fears on to me, stop.”
    The narrator is trying to understand the person they are talking about, even when they act hostile towards them. They believe that the other person is projecting their emotions onto them and are asking them to stop.

  • “I’m starting to feel okay, but I’m choking at night.”
    This line shows how the narrator is attempting to move on but is still struggling to let go of the past and all the pain that comes with it.


The Antlers’ “Kettering” is a powerful song that deals with themes of loss, regret, and empathy. The emotional lyrics can evoke empathy in listeners and help them understand and cope with their own emotions. If you’re a fan of heartfelt lyrics and thought-provoking music, The Antlers is a band you should check out.

The Chords and Lyrics of “Kettering” by The Antlers

The hauntingly beautiful song “Kettering” is one of the most popular tracks by American indie rock band The Antlers. It’s a track that’s both melancholic and uplifting, and it’s no surprise that many music enthusiasts want to learn how to play it. Here’s a guide on how to play the chords and the lyrics to “Kettering.”

Understanding the Chords

Before delving into the chords of “Kettering,” it’s essential to understand a bit about chord progressions. “Kettering” is in the key of E minor, and the chords used in the song are:

  • Em
  • G
  • D
  • A

The chord progression of the song is as follows:

Em G D A
Em G D A
C B7 Em G
C B7 D A

Playing the Chords

Once you’ve got the chord progression down, it’s time to start playing “Kettering.” Here are the chords for each verse and chorus:

Verse 1:

Em G D A (x2)


Em G D A (x2)
C B7 Em G
C B7 D A

Verse 2:

Em G D A (x2)


Em G D A (x2)
C B7 Em G
C B7 D A


C G D A (x2)
C G A (x2)

Understanding the Lyrics

The lyrics of “Kettering” are equally as haunting as the melody. They’re packed with emotion and deal with intense themes, such as grief, loss, and hope. Here are the lyrics to “Kettering”:

I wish that I had known in that first minute we met
The unpayable debt that I owed you
‘Cause you’d been abused by the bone that refused you
And you hired me to make up for that

Walking in that room when you had tubes in your arms
Those singing morphine alarms out of tune
They had you sleeping and eating and I didn’t believe them
When they called you a hurricane thunderclap

When I was checking vitals I suggested a smile
You didn’t talk for a while, you were freezing
You said you hated my tone it made you feel so alone
So you told me I had to be leaving

But something kept me standing by that hospital bed
I should’ve quit but instead, I took care of you
You made me sleep all uneven and I didn’t believe them
When they told me that there was no saving you


Key Takeaways

Here are some crucial takeaways from this guide:

  • Chords used in “Kettering” are Em, G, D, and A.
  • The song follows a specific chord progression, which is emphasized in the chorus.
  • The lyrics of “Kettering” are intense, and they touch on themes like loss, grief, and hope.
  • “Kettering” is an excellent song for beginner guitarists to practice and improve their chord progression skills.

That’s all there is to playing the chords and lyrics of “Kettering” by The Antlers. Remember, practice makes perfect, so keep strumming those chords or gently fingerpicking them until you get them right. Good luck!