Ani Difranco- Swan Dive (from the 2004 Trust DVD)
Swan Dive is one of the definitive songs for Ani Difranco, but that’s unfortunately more due to the legendary “I’m gonna pull out my tampon and start splashing around” lyric that fans gleefully sing along with and which grosses out most non-fans and critics. By reducing the song to just that one line though, the overall beauty of the song is missed. Ani’s acoustic guitar playing is propulsive and highly charged as always (She’s terribly under-rated as a guitarist. What she lacks in terms of solos or technical wizardry is made up for by the fact that she’s one of few musicians in recent years to have achieved a signature distinctive guitar sound), but what makes the song special is that it manages to approach the idea of hope from a fully-informed and non-idealistic viewpoint.
Most songs that center on hoping for something better have unrealistic views or are simply too innocent to resonate after you see more of life and realize, “Hey, maybe shit isn’t gonna work out most of the time. Now what?” In this song though, Ani fully realizes the difficulties of life, she’s “swan div(ing) into shark-infested waters” and knows “that jumping is easy, that falling is fun, up until you hit the sidewalk, shivering and stunned”. Acknowledging all the negative things that could and probably will happen to her is what makes the joy in choosing to take a chance here so compelling.
What’s the point of a life without risks, right? “I don’t care if they eat me alive, I’ve got better things to do than survive.”