the song
title : The swimming song
written by : Loudon Wainwright III
song copyright : © Snowden Music
source recording : Loudon’s own recording of this song is on his Attempted moustache album of 1988

the performance
musicians
Eddi Reader vocal
Neill MacColl guitars, autoharp, backing vocal
Phil Steriopulos double bass, backing vocal
Roy Dodds “splish splash splosh” drums, backing vocal?
music
key : B flat major
time-signature : 2/4
tempo : MM 120
form : V V v V V v V v V
lyrics

provided for research and private study only (see above for copyright details):

The swimming song

this summer I went swimming
this summer I might have drowned
but I held my breath, I kicked my feet
moved my arms around
   I moved my arms around

this summer I swam in the ocean
and I swam in a swimming pool
salt my wounds, chlorine my eyes
I’m a self-destructive fool
   self-destructive fool

– acoustic guitar solo

this summer I did the back-stroke
and you know that that’s not all
I did the breast stroke, the butterfly
and the old australian crawl
   the old australian crawl

this summer I swam in a public place
and a reservoir to boot
at the latter I was informal
at the former I wore my suit
   I wore my swimming suit

– percussion solo

oh, this summer I did swan dives
and jack-knives for you all
and once when you weren’t looking
I did a cannon-ball
   I did a cannon-ball

– autoharp solo

this summer I went swimming
this summer I might have drowned
but I held my breath, I kicked my feet
and moved my arms around
   I moved my arms around

explanations
no, I’m not going to explain what all the swimming terms are in detail, I’m not a swimmer, but I feel sure they’re all okay

the recording
personnel
produced by : Eddi Reader and the Patron Saints of Imperfection
recorded by : Terry Medhurst at Helicon Mountain Studio, London?
mixed by : Terry Medhurst? at Helicon Mountain Studio?
mastered by : ? at Townhouse?
technical
track timing : 1:53
song timing : m:ss
released on
album : Mirmama track 10

commentary
Just such a wonderfully outdoor, summery sort of song. For some reason, in verse 4, I always think of a “birthday-suit” and I really can’t work out why. Apart from Loudon Wainright III’s own recording, I know the one by the McGarrigale sisters, Kate and Anna, on their self-titled debut album (1975) but naturally I think Eddi’s is the best!
Adrian Dover