October 18

Swan Song Theory

There was a songwriter who I have seen a number of times at open mic.  He’s moving to Colorado and so this is the last time I’ll probably hear him, barring some errant future trip to New York City in some distant year.

Would you like to hear my theory about the Swan Song?  I think the original theory is that the swan, sensing that the end is near, focuses its life force into a final performance that, because of this exertion, expresses some great and unrivalled beauty.  It’s a nice sentiment sourcing the origin of the Swan Song in the swan’s sober acknowledgement of death.

But I think that isn’t right. I think the Swan Song sounds the way it does because the listener knows that the swan is going to die and he knows he won’t hear it ever again.  That acknowledgment focuses the attention of the listener on the final performance in such a way that recognizes something that was there the whole time.

Which is to say, that as I see it, it turns out in a certain way, every song was a Swan Song the whole time.  I guess I’m saying that maybe people are really stupid and they don’t appreciate how great life is, and maybe I can be such a fool sometimes.