Top: Full page illustration of the first verse of “Swimming Song” by Loudin Wainwright III.
September, 2015. Watercolor, guache, pen.
I’ve always loved this song, and I’ve spent a few summers listening to the Kate & Anna McGarrigle version (from their self-titled album, released 1975) on repeat. It invokes images of sparkling water and feeling OK about complete immersion.
Lyrically, “Swimming Song” is both understated and metaphorical. Apparently, when asked if the song was about alcohol/drug abuse, depression, or some other dark matter of the soul, Loudin replied simply that it’s “just a song about swimming”. And the intrigue builds.
The illustration above is the first verse:
This summer I went swimming/ this summer I might have drowned/
But I held my breath/ and I kicked my feet/
And I moved my arms around/ I moved my arms around
This series will be slow in coming, but it’s fun.