“You Swan, Go On” by Mount Eerie


I am a goner for Mount Eerie’s fog doom and droning heavy hemlock metal. I am a goner for Julie Doiron, and her voice in that song about how nice it is to come home and turn on your little lamp. And I am three times a goner for the triangulation of Phil Elverum, Julie Doiron, and Fred Squire on the record Lost Wisdom, and particularly in the song “You Swan, Go On.” I love the breathlessness of the first line, delivered pauselessly like a run-on compound word, how it walks down the scale and then bubbles back up for air with “after I met you.” And I love it when Julie Doiron dovetails into the mix a third of the way in, and how the two voice parts dance around one another, Elverum starting low and going high, Doiron coming in high and dipping down under Elverum in a little do-si-do. The harmonies and the missteps are inimitable, the lovable flubbed chord, for instance—a minute and eight seconds in—is resonant, it sounds like childhood and campfires. At only ninety-two seconds, “You Swan, Go On” is inarguably a short and sweet one, and yet for all its purported short-and-sweetness, it is nuanced and infinite. I love that for as many times as Ben and I have tried to pick it apart and sing this song together, we make a mistake and have to start again. And that’s the other thing I love, I love starting this song over again, just for the chance to get to that shy rhyming, the sweetly misconjugated “flied” at the end one more time: “O so it’s over / O so we died / O so your hand on my heart pumping blood went limp / and O I flied / O swan inside.”

-Hajara Quinn

BIO PICHajara Quinn
lives in Portland Ore. She is an assistant editor for Octopus Books and the author of the chapbook Unnaysayer (Flying Object 2013). Her poems have appeared in Gulf Coast, Banango Street, The Volta, Nightblock and Sixth Finch. She is the recipient of a 2015 Oregon Literary Fellowship.

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