When I was seventeen, I hadn’t yet realized that every song My Bloody Valentine recorded during the few years they were making “Loveless” was about sex—that was an epiphany I had a couple of years later on a hot spring day in Jacksonville, Florida. And I think I was fairly innocent about that aspect of “Swallow” when I first chose it as my last song. But something about the song did make me feel warm inside. At the time, it might simply have been the first few words of the song (which are—to my ears, at least—really the only clearly intelligible words in the song): “Sweetheart, I want you to know.” It might have been that “sweetheart.” Now, I think I’m drawn to the words that come after.
Because—listen to it—an intimacy is established between the singer and the listener (“sweetheart”), and the singer’s desire to communicate is expressed, but the listener can’t quite hear what the singer is trying to say. But, despite this, the intimacy is never diminished, and the listener comes away from the song feeling as if he or she has gotten the point. I like the song because I want to know what the singer wants me to know, and while I’m listening I feel like I do know—but more importantly, I also believe her. And I believe her because I don’t have to understand every word to understand what she’s trying to say—I believe her because she communicates the way a close friend would. The singer knows me, and what she has to say concerns me. This is what my favorite poems do.