Vow

Album: Garbage (1995)
Charted: 97
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Songfacts®:

  • "Vow" was the debut single for Garbage, the band comprised of vocalist Shirley Manson, guitarists Steve Marker and Duke Erikson and drummer Butch Vig. The latter three called themselves "Spooner" and then "Fire Town" before they added Scottish singer Manson.
  • "Vow" began in rough demo form in January 1994 before Manson joined the band. Vig wrote the original lyrics after reading a newspaper article about a woman who had gone back to get revenge on an abusive husband. By the time Manson came on board, "Vow" was almost complete, but she ad-libbed some additional lyrics. One of the first lyrics she added were the opening lines:

    I can't use what I can't abuse
    And I can't stop when it comes to you
  • The song is about having feelings of vengeance. "You have to face your feelings of revenge and work out why you feel that way," Manson told Melody Maker. "It's about that conundrum when you're really angry but in reality you're in a pitiful state. Angry, twisted, but deep down, vulnerable."
  • After Volume magazine licensed the song for a CD sampler at the end of 1994, it was playlisted by Los Angeles and Seattle modern rock radio stations. The track generated such significant buzz, Mushroom Records chose it as the single to launch Garbage. It worked: "Vow" entered the US Hot 100 and the Australian and New Zealand singles chart.

    "Volume magazine - which was at that time a very hip CD magazine - approached us while we were recording the debut album and said, 'We'd like to put out a Garbage track,' and 'Vow' was the only song that was really remotely close to being finished," Manson recalled to the BBC. "And as a result of that magazine, Vow got played on radio and we took off."
  • Director Samuel Bayer filmed the performance video over 12 hours in Los Angeles at the start of June 1995. When Garbage performed "Vow" live as Bayer shot the takes, it was the first time they'd played together as a group.

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