The subject is my grandfather Dave, who inspired the song 'Love At The End Of The Century'. While that song was a tribute to his randy spirit and determination, 'Swimming' is a much more personal and difficult story.
After he passed, Mom shared a poem with me that expressed a lot of feelings she had been struggling with. Dave was not the best dad. He was emotionally distant and had an incredible lack of empathy. A simple example was the way he hung up the phone as soon as he was done speaking. No acknowledgment the conversation was over, no good-bye. Just click! None of us ever got used to it.
The Chorus and first verse are about putting Dave to rest. This was a strangely peaceful yet awkward event. On a sunny summer day, My Mom, Dad, Sister and I drove out towards Georgian Bay, a place he loved dearly. The plan was to rent a little boat, putt out into the bay and pour the ashes overboard. What actually happened is we got to the end of the road and found the only marina there closed. Rather than backtrack to find another one we decided to let him go there near the mouth of the Moon River. Of course we had no boat so I volunteered to swim him out to the middle of the river with the box of ashes and do it there.
This turned out to be much trickier than I thought. The box was cardboard and, although I had put it in a plastic bag, it became incredibly heavy very quickly as water seeped in. Oh, and did I mentioned the Moon River is wide and the current was strong? Long story short, by the time I made it to the middle I was spent and the box had all but disintegrated.
On shore Dad wanted me to hold up the box for a picture. Treading water I did my best to lift the soggy box out of the water and promptly got a mouthful, which close to drowned me. With some difficulty I emptied the contents of the bag and swam back to shore.
The second verse and bridge of the song are my internalization of Mom's poem and feelings about Dave, my Grandmother Dorthy and how we were affected.
Box of water bag of air absent father didn’t care
Reduced to ashes, strand of hair,
I took you swimming and I left you there
Undignified or simply scared
Either way all four were there
We had a purpose if not a plan
To say goodbye away from land
You would have said it’s a waste of time
She would have yelled that it was fine
When conversation turns to shouts
I understand why she got out
Approach as soft as a water landing
None of us will be left standing
The scratch of nails will be my branding
Your debt will always be outstanding
(Copyright 2013, Perry Gladstone. All rights reserved)
from Here Tomorrow Gone Today,
released December 8, 2013
Perry Gladstone - vocals
Erik Lundquist - drums
Brendan Bauer - bass
Richard Weisdorf - upright piano, organ and Korg MS-2000
Mitch Girio - guitars, vibraphones, pump organ, Chamberlain samples, drum machine, percussion, backing vocals
Charismatic, compelling and peripatetic, Prince Perry channels his coming of age idols of Elvis Costello, Terry Hall and Joe
Strummer into a unique blend of passionate, ska-infused rock and roll that leaves you feeling like it’s not too late to be happy with your life. Or at least someone else's whom you know well enough to borrow their car....more