Album: Alas, I Cannot Swim (2008)


  • This coming-of-age track shatters the adolescent Marling's illusions about her idols. The rock singer she once loved "lost poetic ethic" and "he's a failure now." The god she once worshipped is no longer her savior: "If he made me in his image, then he's a failure, too." But the singer doesn't let the hardships define her. She encourages: "Don't cry, child, you've got so much more to live for."
  • Marling told Daniel Rachel (The Art of Noise: Conversations with Great Songwriters) that this was the first song she ever wrote and completed. "Damning words," she said of the lyrics about God. "There were some pretty terrible ones following that... they're full of teenage rage and they're quite funny, I suppose. I remember writing 'Failure' at the piano on the guitar at my parents' house and my dad hearing me do it and going, 'That's good.' I remember thinking, 'I'm doing good.' I can't remember the process of writing it."
  • The album title comes from an Iranian poem called There's a Boy Across the River but Alas I Cannot Swim. Marling says her godfather brought it to her attention while they were discussing "the relationship between early Christian writing and Greek mythology and the beginning of Western literature and how they contradict each other."


Be the first to comment...

Editor's Picks

dUg Pinnick of King's XSongwriter Interviews

dUg dIgs into his King's X metal classics and his many side projects, including the one with Jeff Ament of Pearl Jam.

Justin TimberlakeFact or Fiction

Was Justin the first to be Punk'd by Ashton Kutcher? Did Britney really blame him for her meltdown? Did his bandmates think he was gay?

Tom Johnston from The Doobie BrothersSongwriter Interviews

The Doobies guitarist and lead singer, Tom wrote the classics "Listen To The Music," "Long Train Runnin'" and "China Grove."

Album Cover InspirationsSong Writing

Some album art was at least "inspired" by others. A look at some very similar covers.

David Bowie Leads the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Long-Haired MenSong Writing

Bowie's "activist" days of 1964 led to Ziggy Stardust.

Experience Nirvana with Sub Pop Founder Bruce PavittSong Writing

The man who ran Nirvana's first label gets beyond the sensationalism (drugs, Courtney) to discuss their musical and cultural triumphs in the years before Nevermind.