A look back at Spirit trail – Swan Song consternation

More than a few people on the Bruce Hornsby newsgroup wondered whether Swan Song might be a coded “fond farewell” to them…

OK, OK, I’m new here and this was probably discussed already. But I have to know. If you listen to “Swan Song” it sounds like Bruce is retiring. Is this true???A man wondering on a cold, dark night

I just hope that this piece wasn’t meant to be  taken at its most literal. … it’d be a real loss if this was his
“Swan Song.”

Rich D:
I just had a positively awful thought, and a “second thought” about that. 

Either way, I thought it might be worthy of discussion….

“Swan Song” is a song that brings back some very sad memories. I remember when I bought my second Beatles album as a kid, and I was oooooh so into that band.  This album was “Abbey Road.” The last song was “The End.” (unless you actually count “Her Majesty” <g>) In fact, it turned out to be the very last song on the very last album that they recorded. I know, “Let It Be” came out later, but it was recorded way before “Abbey Road.” “The End” hurt. It still does to a degree. I just hope that “Swan Song” is not “The End”, and that Bruce has some horrific change of heart about recording… the “enough is enough” sort of thing.

Then, I thought, “of course, the lyrics do kinda sound like he’s paying tribute to his good friend John Molo and all of the time that they worked together.”  That’s the meaning I choose to read into this. It feels better 🙂

To be quite honest, I came to the same conclusion. I hope that “Swan Song” — especially considering its placement at the end of the second disc — isn’t just that, Bruce’s swan song.

I went to a Billy Joel concert here in Philadelphia in April 1996, and he admitted that he did something very similar with the song “Famous Last Words” at the end of his *River of Dreams* album. The song includes the lyrics, “These are the last words I have to say.” He said that has no plans to write any more songs with words, that they all would be instrumental numbers. To this day, Billy Joel hasn’t released an album of new material.

Bruce’s “Swan Song” seems even more ominous. Though the discussion of Bruce’s putting together a live album eases my worries slightly.

“It has nothing to do with Molo’s departure — as has already been stated here, that song was finished well before Molo left. Perhaps Bruce wanted to write a mellow “goodbye” song to close shows with.

I also find it worrisome, especially when you consider the (comparative) lack of touring in the last year and the themes in Sunlight Moon. I guess it speaks to the power of those lyrics that we would take it so literally.


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