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Meaning of the song ‘Swallowed’ by ‘Bush’

Released: 2014

“Swallowed” by Bush is a gritty blend of post-grunge tones and existential angst, wrapped in the enigma of the mid-90s rock zeitgeist. On the surface, it’s a song about feeling overwhelmed and longing for escape, but delve a little deeper, and you’ll find it’s an exploration of isolation, self-destruction, and the paradox of being surrounded yet profoundly alone.

The opening lines, “Warm sun, feed me up / And I’m leery, loaded up”, set the stage with a sense of seeking nourishment and warmth from the sun, a metaphor for a desire for comfort and healing. However, this is quickly juxtaposed with a feeling of wariness and being burdened or “loaded up” with something heavy—presumably, emotional or existential baggage. This duality kicks off the theme of craving change while being entrenched in a destructive cycle.

The chorus, “Swallowed, followed / Heavy ’bout everything but my love / Swallowed, sorrowed / I’m with everyone and yet not”, hits like a freight train of irony and despair. The repetition of “swallowed” evokes a feeling of being consumed by these overwhelming emotions or situations, while “followed” hints at the inescapability of these feelings. Gavin Rossdale, the frontman, articulates a profound loneliness and disconnection with the line “I’m with everyone and yet not”, illustrating the paradox of feeling isolated in a crowd—a sentiment that echoes loudly in the hearts of many.

By the time the song reaches “Hey you said you would, love to try some / Hey you said you would love to die some”, the narrative delves into a complicated interplay of wanting to experience life fully but also flirting with self-destruction. The imagery of being “in the middle of a world on a fishhook” suggests being caught or trapped in a situation or feeling, emphasizing the song’s overarching feeling of entrapment and longing for escape.

The later verses, such as “Piss on, self-esteem / Forward, busted knee”, strip down to a raw and nihilistic view aligning with the grunge ethos of embracing imperfection and disillusionment with societal norms. Here, Bush taps into the frustration with conformist pressures, and the “simple, selfish son” could be seen as both a personal admission and a broader commentary on the human condition.

As the song winds down with “Got to get away from here / Miss the one that I love a lot”, there’s a shift towards a more explicit longing for escape and a return to something or someone loving and familiar. This closing emphasizes the song’s theme of seeking solace and redemption amidst chaos and confusion.

In essence, “Swallowed” by Bush is an anthem for those who’ve ever felt overwhelmed by their surroundings, emotions, or the staggering silence of feeling alone in a crowded room. It’s a stark reminder of the internal battles many face while navigating the murky waters of self-identity and connection in an often indifferent world.

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