"Night of the Swallow" as written by and Kate / Bush....
The night doesn't like it
Looks just like your face on the moon to me
And I won't let you do
What you want to do
It's funny how, even now, you're laughing.

I won't let you do it!

If you go, I'll let the law know
And they'll head you off when you touch the ground
Ooh, please, don't go through with this
I don't like the sound of it
It's funny how, even now, you're miles away

I won't let you do it
I won't let you do it
I won't let you go through with it!

Meet them over at Dover
I'll just pilot the motor
Take them over the water

With a hired plane
And no names mentioned
Tonight's the night of the flight
Before you know
I'll be over the water

Like a swallow
There's no risk
I'll whisk them up in no moonlight
And though pigs can fly
They'll never find us
Posing as the night
And I'm home before the morning

In Malta, catch a swallow
For all of the guilty to set them free
Wings fill the window
And they beat and bleed
They hold the sky on the other side of borderlines

Meet them over at Dover
I'll just pilot the motor
Take them over the water
Like a swallow flying to Malta

With a hired plane
And no names mentioned
Tonight's the night of the flight
Before you know
I'll be over the water
Like a swallow

There's no risk
I'll whisk them up in no moonlight
And though pigs can fly
They'll never find us
Posing as the night
And I'm home before the morning

Give me a break!
Oh, let me try!
Give me something to show
For my miserable life!
Give me something to take!
Would you break even my wings
Just like a swallow?

Let me, let me go
With a hired plane
And no names mentioned
Tonight's the night of the flight
Before you know
I'll be over the water
Like a swallow

("Let me, let me go!")
There's no risk
I'll whisk them up in no moonlight
And though pigs can fly
They'll never find us
Posing as the night
And I'm home before the morning

("Let me, let me go!")
With a hired plane
And no names mentioned
Tonight's the night of the flight
Before you know
I'll be over the water
Like a swallow

("Let me, let me go!")
There's no risk
I'll whisk them up in no moonlight
And though pigs can fly
They'll never find us
Posing as the night
And I'm home before the morning
But you're not a swallow!


Lyrics submitted by weezerific:cutlery, edited by Mellow_Harsher

"Night of the Swallow" as written by Kate Bush

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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Night of the Swallow song meanings
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8 Comments

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  • +1
    General CommentThe mission is dangerous... Maybe IRA, maybe drugs, etc... The crooks need a plane/pilot, so hire and flatter him as The Swallow... He believes the crooks when they say that, as anonymous hired pilot, his role will be quick, easy and less involved... He is recklessly excited... "I'm home before the morning" ... However, she does not trust the situation and thinks he has been set up, or is too gullible, naive and weak... She appeals to him, adding the empty threat of letting the law know... But he is recklessly determined...

    Maybe at the end of the song, she is crying out to him, "Let me go (in your place!)" ... to swap places (à la Running Up That Hill)... She is so anxious for him that she is prepared to put herself in his place because she thinks she is stronger and more capable... and he is not a swallow!
    Theresa_Gionoffrioon November 17, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commentsomething like:

    the narrator is helping a very close firend (who apparently did something illegal) and other criminals escape to some other country, like a swallow, in a hired plane...though pigs can fly refers to cops...but they won't find them...no one will suspect her...

    this song's really dense, though, and the meaning is vague
    starpatrolleron August 31, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis is a woman begging her man not to go on a war mission....incredible dramatic insight on an obscure topic for pop music...as usual!
    musicatokcon October 27, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI believe it is somewhat between the previous two interpretations. Although a war-time interpretation is not far off, the "pigs can fly" imagery seems to more accurately evoke police forces, flying in aircraft, rather than enemy forces. As such, I believe it is a song about a woman begging her man to not go on a mission ferrying an IRA operative out of England and into the Continent (or perhaps to pick up said operatives and spirit them away from the reach of British justice) in a plane under cover of night.

    The object of the song sees it as a low-risk opportunity to do "something" with his "miserable life," something without implication of guilt. It is unclear whether the pilot is an actual Irish Catholic, or simply an IRA sympathizer. The singer does not agree, and has to overcome the pilot's sense of pride, as he has chosen this illegal opportunity in order to add meaning to his life.
    devonappleon January 11, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentA Great Song Story! ... 'The Night doesn't like it' ... The opening evokes divination, ill omen, witchcraft, spells... an appeal to the Moon Goddess... An inauspicious moon... a feeling of foreboding...

    Swallows are excellent fliers, using their skill to attract a mate and defend territory... The SWALLOW represents the idea of coming back, of returning home, of resurrection, hope, loyalty, freedom... a hardship survived, a victory gained... The SWALLOW can also represent the relationship between an older and younger brother...

    "But you're not a swallow" (heard right at the end of the track)... The dreadful foresight of one sees the doom of the other... The other seems lost to the scheme, heedless; deaf to appeal and blind to the seriousness of events... Hubris... Too heroically ambitious, arrogant and foolish... Too driven to make a stand, to give it meaning...

    The song captures the inner struggle between caution and desire, and the human struggle of one who really cares...
    Theresa_Gionoffrioon November 17, 2007   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationI do think this song is about some kind of shady deal, but I don't think it's sung all from one perspective.

    I think there are two (maybe three) characters: the criminal making the illegal action, his lover, and maybe the pilot.

    The lover (she): "The night doesn't like it" to "I won't let you go through with this", then "In Malta…" to "I won't let you go through with this", finally "but you're not a swallow"
    The criminal (he): "With a hired plane" to "And I'm home before the morning", then "Give me a break" to "Let me go"
    The pilot (possible): the refrain ("Meet them over at Dover…")

    The lover pleads with the criminal to not go through with this illegal deal, because it's far more dangerous then the criminal and his crew think it's going to be. She even threatens to let the law know. The criminal tries to reassure the lover that everything is going to be right and he'll be home before she realizes he's gone. He needs to do this so he feels like he's doing "something with his miserable life".

    This is where the story has two diverging paths: Either she did let the law know to stop him from doing it or the pilot was some sort of double agent or working for the law and double crossed them "over the water". The only reason I think she let the law know instead was this: "In Malta catch a swallow," instructing where the law can find them.

    sundaysadon June 03, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentOh come on,

    All of the above seems right but I think is too realistic to have anything to do with such a passionate song. Police, IRA, Drugs…

    Why don’t you try a man and woman in love. The woman is trying for years to persuade the man. He is constantly on the verge of saying yes, but always denies (maybe he is in a relationship with another woman). But tonight she won’t let him make the same mistake again. She will take him on a ride even for this one time.

    I believe Kate uses the Swallow for his flying abilities and as a freedom symbol and not his returning habits.

    Furthermore I’m sure the pigs that fly is an image she borrows from the “Animals” Pink Floyd album and that has nothing to do with the police but with dominant and ruthless people, destroyers of dreams, in this case social ethics.

    Maybe I’m wrong but that’s how I love this song and I won’t see it turning into Rambo III.
    peopepeo13on April 20, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General CommentFirst and foremost, this is one of Kate's top 5 songs for me and I love all her music. I especially love the polytonal thing she does so incredibly with the first lines, specifically on the words "night" and "like". She is the *only* singer I know that can pull that off so elegantly.

    As to the meaning, it does seem like perhaps this couple is sympathetic to a certain cause (what that is we do not know) and the man wants to aid the cause by flying the getaway plane. There is a back and forth exchange in the lyric between the man and the woman.
    Progman1on January 24, 2014   Link

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