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The Regional Variations

by Swimmer One

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    11-track audio CD, including 12-page lyric booklet and artwork designed by Daniel Warren.

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if we stay in this place we will drown, we are lost. there must be an exit. where’s the host? he should know, but all he can do is stare at your chest. he wants to know details, wants to hear us confess. the boat’s overturned, no one here has got long so the host keeps them calm with some gossip, jokes, and songs. we just want to know if there are rafts or a flare. they just want to know if you scream, what you wear. he says: ‘if you don’t survive the ratings will go through the roof for this. you can’t want to die without the world having a chance to know you. you have 15 minutes of air, you should make your seconds count. do you keep on going till you’re numb? what sound do you make when you come?’ and nobody says: ‘this is insane.’ and nobody says: ‘leave these people alone.’ the water is flooding over the stage and on to the sofa. and nobody says: ‘we’d rather live.’
Largs Hum 04:16
take a drive to where the ships leave. go straight through, fly right by, always listening, always listening. there it is now, can you hear it? there’s a noise that this place makes. it’s a low hum that sticks in your head and it never quite rises but it stays with you till you are dead. there’s a woman who lives here says the migraines drive her half insane. ‘yeah,’ i say, ‘i have always felt that way. that’s why I keep moving.’ i grew up here but i didn’t hear until i grew up; now i can’t shut my ears. all these people never knowing it. do the churches know? does the parliament know? i’m sorry darling, i was in love with you. you tore my heart apart but i’m not angry now. you have a nice house, you have a nice life. i lost my innocence, the world revealed itself. if you sit at the water’s edge and you stare out into the abyss you will find yourself listening, you will find your hand forming a fist. it creeps up on you slowly. some say government, some say it’s god. i can’t tell, i just know it feels like hell. this one time the noise stops. a village appears as the mist clears. i am so scared i have to drive away much faster than before. my head is full but my heart is empty. i don’t think that anyone i meet can save me from thoughts like: ‘largs hum is louder and higher. i know too much, someone wants me dead.’ if i just keep driving i’ll be fine. i feel sure the answer’s round the next bend.
we are trying to find ourselves in a backstage hallway. yes, i know it’s getting late, but we never quite grew into the skin we were born in. we can’t help but make mistakes; it’s what we do. but here it is, the new show by the national theatre, and here we are the freaks whose lives just scream disaster. and it’s all so moving and they look so much like us that who are we to argue? when the national theatre tells you that it loves your story you’re expected to feel thrilled. it’s what they do. they will make you as tall as a building or as bright as a fireworks display but somehow in this riot of colour all grey areas get washed away, and i won’t be their god damn freak show to be pelted with fruit from the stalls, so i hope that they feel entertained while i slip out the back door. we are better off here in our heads with no audience watching the bed. why’s it strange not to want a display and to love you anyway? but here it is, the new show by the national theatre, and here we are the freaks whose lives just scream disaster. and it’s all so moving and they look so much like us. but i never could act, i never could perform, and i prefer you off stage, so close the curtains, sit next to me and promise you’ll never leave.
punk’s dead. the world’s grey. the Sun rules, it sucks life out of each day. i hate love. it’s soap sex and fake pink castles. you took real life and left me a plastic matrix of cartoon people who talk loud but don’t say anything except ‘don’t stay in, go join in, find a friend, drink some gin. you won’t put the world to rights unless you can sleep at night. let her go.’ but my heart is broken. my heart is broken. i’m lost to goodness, i’m such a mess now you’re gone. the planet is dead, babe, except for the part that you’re on. tv clowns in fuck me heels, businessmen with smug fat smiles, grey ideas and grey-haired fear, i’m trying to love you but it just got harder.
my lover lived somewhere over the sea until the day that she died. she was wiped out in 2003’s fakester genocide. i try not to miss her. she could have been a he. trust disappears as the world grows in size but everything is possible. my lover lives in a town full of hope where nobody is miserable and nobody lies. put down your drugs, close your tired eyes, fly through the air with the greatest of ease. there’s a kid in japan likes the same films as me. we’re doing lunch today, i’ll be back for tea. i travel to survive. there is nothing to keep me here. but if every country is basically the same where does that leave all the glorious escape routes? i lie about loneliness, try to stay sane by reaching through cables for something like heaven or something like love. what can i do here? i miss you like crazy, miss the earth’s surface stretched out before me. i’m in the ocean, my plane has come down, but there are always rafts, there are always voices: ‘fakester boy, don’t give up yet. swim for shore, you’re fine. they can’t kill us off quite so easily. trust us, she’s alive. you’ll find her in the unsaid words in sentences, in the spaces between strangers on trains. you’ll find her between reels at the cinema. she’ll love you, keep you safe.
there was that low point when you thought you’d jump. i whispered, you stopped. i’ve loved you for years, i feel duty-bound as a good employee. i am trying my best to serve the balance company so you get what you deserve from the balance company. try not to shatter the nerves of the balance company. i joined this company to sing good words, tell me what’s so wrong with good words? like: ‘put that shotgun down, turn off that gas supply.’ yes, sometimes we fail, but if i turn this voice off for a minute or two then i am a lab rat looking for something to do, so i do this. i am trying my best to serve the balance company so you get what you deserve from the balance company. try not to shatter my nerves, yeah? yeah. there is nothing but love in the world. there is nothing but love. there is nothing. keep singing the first part and you will be fine. the company disco will teach you to dance in time. it’s all in the chorus, the way you say ‘love’. don’t fret about verses, you don’t need that stuff.
we watched him step into the river clyde. we watched until his head went under. the water briefly bubbled then was still, and then we went for chips and cheese. we watched the news and there he was again but they left out the best part, the part where he became something more than a drowned man, when the sunlight caught his hair just there. i was just sick of all this shallowness. i wanted to see somebody go deep. then maybe i could sleep. maybe i would sleep.
love, have a glass of wine and sit there quite still. as soon as you say this i feel numb. seven years old with a voice in my head. ‘it’s your choice where you go but you really should know, whatever you do don’t go in the basement. you might not like what you find down there, stay here upstairs.’ but as soon as it’s out there that chance is gone. now I know what your scars and all of those marks under your fingernails are. please stay, you say, i’m all alone. then someone else says: ‘you should go.
Regional 05:40
take that bus. i’ll wait right here with all of your favourite music. we’ll find your friends, we’ll find a hill and climb right up until we’ve risen above all this pollution. i got tired of living life as a regional variation of something i don’t even like. i got tired of watching you get weighed down by these weightless people and not wondering why the centre pulls the whole world in until we all look exactly the same. you talk like them, you think like them. you cry, dress, fret, get depressed like them about nothing that matters. but i liked you more when you looked like no one else on the whole planet and thought that the planet was saveable. they told you lies when they told you everyone is just the same, or why on earth would i love you? you are not here to amuse them. you are here to live. you are not here to confuse them. they just need to know the centre no longer holds you. this is the place where everything stops, then starts up again but this time much clearer. i know we can’t walk away from all the damage that we’ve done but we can try not to do more. so don’t you work there, don’t you shop there, keep to the edge of the path. these are not our wars. you are not here to amuse them, you are here to live. you are not here to confuse them. they just need to listen. if this is the end of the world for these last few hours let’s go back to the start. from this vantage point, this privileged position, the city’s just a speck on the horizon. i sit and watch the smoke rise, safe from floods and earthquakes and all the stupid things we made while distracted by TV, wondering where you are, hoping that you’re safe, knowing that i won’t see you again.
the dark ages are approaching, or we’ve been living them for years. it kind of depends on the state that her heart’s in. the city centre’s full of people. it’s been one of those rare days when it feels like the earth could be moved if we all shoved hard. but she knows much better than that, she knows how much cruelty is wrapped up inside them: ‘they’ll march and they’ll sing and wave flags, then go home, hurt somebody. they just came here for the pop songs, they just came to feel less scared, and to feel someone else will take care of the problem.’ but if she decides that, she’ll drown, and then the dark ages will really have got her. she might not much care for this town, but it’s full of children in need of protection from men who think money will save us, from men who would like to enslave us, from boys with their heads full of bombs who think god has sent them to take us back to the dark ages. she will learn to feel less hopeless at the lack of maps or torches. we gave it our best and i know that she’ll make us proud.
look out from whithorn at the wild wild wild sea and you can feel humble or see endless possibilities. i ran past the chapel, you can’t see it from the car park, went straight for the rockpools, they’re a much better landmark. we decided to drive to the cradle of christianity in case we felt something. i felt nothing but i did see they built a petrol pump on the wall of the church. it was so disrespectful i laughed until my sides hurt. this is where I am now, the black sheep of the family. i spit and use bad words and then dare you to forgive me. i don’t want to live forever, i don’t want to worship anyone, so where does that leave us? well, it just leaves us. yes, my wife is dying, and my child is dying and the petrol that brought us here is from oil wells that are dying but we’ve got love and picnics and we know we won’t last but we will try to outlive you or at least reach the beach. look out from here at the wild wild wild sea and you can feel humble or see endless possibilities


The first album by Swimmer One


released January 9, 2007


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Swimmer One Edinburgh

Experimental pop music from Edinburgh.

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