My old addiction
Changed the wiring in my brain
So that when it turns the switches
Then I am not the same

So like the flowers toward the Sun
I will follow
Stretch myself out thin
Like there's a part of me that's already buried
That sends me out into this window

My old addiction
Is a flood upon the land
This tiny lifeboat
Can keep me dry
But my weight is all
That it can stand

So when I try to lean just a little
For just a splash to cool my face
Ahh that trickle
Turns out fickle
Fills my boat up
Five miles deep

My old addiction
Makes me crave only what is best
Like these just this morning song birds
Craving upward from the nest
These tiny birds outside my window
Take my hand to be their mom
These open mouths
Would trust and swallow
Anything that came along

Like my old addiction
Now the other side of Day
As the springtime
Of my life's time
Turn's the other way

If a swan can have a song
I think I know that tune
But the page is only scrawled
And I am gone this afternoon
But the page is only scrawled
And I am gone this afternoon

Lyrics submitted by trisweb

Chet Baker's Unsung Swan Song Lyrics as written by David Patrick Wilcox

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Chet Baker's Unsung Swan Song song meanings
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  • +1
    General CommentThis song is beautiful. I cry almost every time I hear it.

    It was written about Chet Baker, the infamous trumpet player who happened to be a heroin addict.

    The contrast of beautiful, innocent images like "morning song birds" and "flowers toward the Sun" with the heavy and dark theme of addiction is
    what makes this song so haunting.

    Clearly this song is sung from Chet's perspective. I always see the "lifeboat" as a very unreliable metaphor for heroin. I think that to Chet, the heroin must have seemed like the lifeboat, keeping him afloat at times, but as an observer I think it's apparent that the heroin is actually the rising water that pulls him under.

    I'm not a heroin user but I've heard that the feeling it gives you is akin to what it feels like to drift around aimlessly in a swimming pool or on a large body of water. In the movie "Ray" there is a water motif that escalates with his heroin addiction. And heroin itself is often injected as a liquid through a syringe.

    I sometimes think that all of those connections to the water may explain the flood imagery.

    I took the "scrawled" page as a suicide note--Chet's swan song.
    stdesantison August 01, 2006   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationThis song is a very accurate depiction of addiction, told from the inside.

    On one of his live albums, Wilcox says he didn't know anything about Chet Baker except what he read on the liner notes. (Baker died from a fall out of a window, which is referred to in the ninth line.)

    Somewhere else -- it might have been in the interview on his DVD -- Wilcox says this song "saved my life". My impression is Wilcox was suffering from addiction when he wrote this song -- he says in the interview "I could not have recopied it faster than I wrote it" -- and this song helped him see a way out. (My guess is Wilcox was addicted to sex. I have no data for that other than the songs he has written, such as "Right Now", "Language of the Heart", "Dangerous", and especially "Please Don't Call").

    As an unrecovered addict, you keep doing something you really want to stop doing. "Changed the wiring in my brain", "Like the flowers towards the sun/I will follow", and "These open mouths/will trust and swallow/anything that came along" all describe this state of inability to stop, to choose, to be rational.

    The siren call of the solace of whatever you are addicted to -- and addiction is nearly always an attempt to numb a seemingly unbearable pain -- this siren call includes the insidious suggestion that you could take just a nip, just a puff, just a look, just a little of the desired sensation. But. No You Can't. Attempt "just a splash" and you are "five miles deep".
    theKidWhoon December 31, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General Commentmaybe the boat is just a metaphor for one's ability to barely stay afloat and then when tempted to just slightly deep into destructive habits it sinks into them, completely loosing itself.
    mariaralucaon March 30, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentDavid Wilcox is the best metaphorical songwriter I've ever heard, and this song is full of gems. Beautiful stuff!!
    gregjohnsonon November 21, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think it’s about a religion that this person left but knows it was best for him. Really nothing to do with any sort of a bad a addiction but rather a good one. Just an addiction that the singer can’t stay with. Probably for reasons of this world, like family and work.
    Amps211on May 09, 2019   Link

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