Swing Life Away

Album: Siren Song Of The Counter Culture (2004)
Charted: 117
Play Video

Songfacts®:

  • This song is about what it's like to live on minimum wage or not get paid at all. It is one of Rise Against's acoustic punk ballads where the singer explains that a dedicated, passionate relationship is far more important than money. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Luke - Chucktown, SC
  • In a Songfacts interview with Rise Against frontman Tim McIlrath, he told the story behind "Swing Life Away."

    "That was written when I was living in a punk house in Chicago," he said. "We spent a lot of our summers hanging out on the front porch because it was so hot in the house and we had no air conditioning. We had guitars out there, people would just hang out and drink and smoke.

    It was a document to that time in my life when it was a lot of young people trying to figure out what it is they want to do and how they want to move forward in their life. Everyone has a cool story and everyone has their own struggles and experience. Some of us were really lost, some of us knew exactly what we wanted. That search that you're on in your youth. 'Swing' was a document to that, a document to Chicago in the summer, and a document to that time in my life just living with a bunch of roommates in a punk house in Chicago."
  • Tim McIlrath wrote this song with his musician roommate Neil Hennessy. The two are long-term friends, and in late 2015, Hennessy took over McIlrath's rhythm guitar duties during Rise Against's European tour after the frontman broke his hand.
  • The band recorded "Swing Life Away" shortly after they'd completed the sessions for their 2003 album Revolutions Per Minute with producer Bill Stevenson. He wanted to put it on the album, but the band was unsure how an acoustic ballad would fit in with such a hardcore punk record.

    Rise Against included the song with little fanfare as their contribution to Fearless Records Punk Goes Acoustic compilation album a year later.

    When Rise Against signed with Dreamworks Records, the label suggested the band should re-record the song for their Siren Song of the Counter Culture album. Producer Garth Richardson felt it was too short, so McIlrath used one of Sheryl Crow's guitars he found in the studio to add an instrumental bridge.

    Dreamworks released "Swing Life Away" as the record's second single on April 26, 2005, peaking at #117.
  • Estevan Oriol directed the video for which McIlrath wrote the treatment. Filmed in Chicago, it replicates the song's relaxed feel as it follows the band members hanging out with friends in a local bar.
  • McIlrath noted how "Swing Life Away" has become a popular song for various ceremonies, including school graduations, proms, weddings, and funerals. "It was a song that I stood behind from the get-go," he told Punk News. " I love the song, I love the message behind it all, you know. I'm just really glad that a band like Rise Against was able to do that. Like I play in a band that was able to do that. I play in a band that doesn't really put ourselves in a box you know and we can do whatever."
  • In 2013, rapper Machine Gun Kelly recorded a cover for his Black Flag mixtape featuring Kellin Quinn, the lead singer of Sleeping With Sirens. His version, which features new verses written by Kelly, takes the song into a more melodic rock direction.

Comments: 17

  • Brian from Schenectady,nyLindsay no offense but that 2nd line was too much.
  • Lindsay from Brampton, OnThis is just my interpretation. An older man is remembering his lifelong relationship with his wife, starting with when they were children and best friends, to when they grew up and throughout their troubles. I have a bunch of examples of what I mean.
    "Am I loud and clear or am I breaking up?" Them as children playing a game (airplanes?)
    "I'll show you mine if you show me yours first." Discovering puberty.
    "Been here so long think that it's time we move. The winter's too cold, summer's over too soon." Talking about the troubles of their new house and young newlyweds, as the second verse hints that time has passed.
    "So let's pack our bags and settle down where palm trees go; I got some friends some that I hardly know, but we've had some times I wouldn't trade for the world!" Talking together about how much better it'll be after they overcome money troubles, their dreams and hopes together.
    "We chase these days off with talks of places that we will go." Once they do it, run away and never have to worry about the hardness of the world. Chasing these dark, difficult says away by dreaming of what lies in our future.

    Pretty much I think of it as, the elderly couple looking back on their adventures over the years as they sit on their front porch.
  • Sc from Anchorage, AkLove this song!!! It totally relates to the relationship that I'm in...word for word.
    One of my favorite acoustic punk songs...it can be simple or complex, depending on how a person looks at it.
  • Marianne from Kimberley,I fell in love with this song when a friend of mine first played it to me on the guitar. He's an amaizing musician and sings it almost as good as rise against. wow...
  • Kadabee from Golds, NlIts about how hard life is and cutting yourself
  • Rachel from Cincinnati, OhThis song reminds me basically what it says is life, you get sh** make lemons... lol. i love acoustic punk songs. We work hard and strive to live but in the end your still alive. Wether you poor rich skinny fat ugly beautiful...LIVE.
  • Lolo Brown from Gertrude, Bahamasughhh ahaha. the day my ex boyfriend and i started dating, this song was playing and we went into this huge conversation about our exs and it went with the whole song part "lets compare scars, i'll tell you whose worse" ughh it was irratating though because of corny he made it ahaha.
    good song though.
  • Marina from Winnipeg, Canadalove the whole acousticness of it. the punk goes acoustic version is my favourite so far.
  • Trisha from Toronto, Oni think this song is just about life. its about loving, memories, and living life to the fullest, and being happy with what you've got. i think about summer when i listen to this song... sitting around a fire or on a porch with a bunch of friends, having a few beers, passing around a guitar and just loving life for that moment. not thinking about anything else but that moment.
  • Kory from El Paso, Txchristian I know everyone has their own opinion but its about a guy who loves his girlfriend with all his heart and is willing to work at his job on minimum wage forever so they can be together also when the singer says they wont cross this street until the other person holds their hand that means that he dosent want to go on unless she is with him
  • Kory from El Paso, Txmy big brother beau sang this at his wedding to his wife joann and in the middle she sang with the hiw I love this song
  • Christian from Boerne, TxThis song is about communism. Through revolution(rising against) the band sings of a socialistic society. Like any revolution, the current government must be overthrown.(lets unwrite these pages, and replace them with our own words.) Socialism creates low and equal wages for all working class. (get by just fine here on minimum wage). Like a good comrade, the singer loves to slave life away. He refuses to cross any street unless the government holds his hand.
  • Lisa from AustraliaHi LIsa C U RUle !!!!
  • Lisa from AustraliaAWW 2 cute! LUv Dis sOnG!!! Hi 2 KATE luv ya!!!
  • Hayden from Werribee, AustraliaThis is my favort song of all time because tells a story about people who dont make a lot of money but still fall in love and would do anything to make that person to love them.
  • Emma from Wesford, Irelandthe singer explains that a dedicated, passionate relationship is far more important than money. This song is about what it's like to live on minimum wage.
    ?If love is a labour, I'll slave 'til the end.
    I won't cross these streets until you hold my hand.?
    This shows he is willing to do anything and work hard at the relationship he has, he will not give up or move on until he succeeds in love.
    ?I've got some friends, some that I hardly know.
    But we've had some times I wouldn't trade for the world.?
    This song is also about the great times in life, and how little things can make a huge impact on someone?s life, unforgettable memories that would be treasured forever.

    This song basically illustrates that life is not about money. It is about getting by living happily with ones self. It shows there is much more to life than material items and money that love, happiness and the times spent that made us happy and with those we care about and love are what matter most.
  • Gray from Aurora , CoThis is an Amazing song. It tells the life of how making minumim wage is or not any money coming in is like, but money isnt everything. It describes a good relationship and how it means everything(even more than money).
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