While I was writing this post, I played “Song for a Warrior” for my 16-year-old sister as a test, and she said, “Swans scare me except for this song,” without even knowing why I was playing it for her. So there you have it, out of the mouths of teenagers, listen to this song and you’re an instant Swans fan. Week over!
Actually, though, “Song for a Warrior” may be one of the most accessible songs in Swans’ catalog, featuring slide guitar layered over acoustic guitar, with a few well-placed piano chords making up the majority of the instrumentation.
Featuring vocals from Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, the great heaving body of The Seer stops hurtling through space for the four-minute duration of this song. In structure and feeling, it is still a very much a Swans song, with the sound building up at the end behind the repetition of the phrase, “Send them home.”
This track plays quiet against loud, soft against hard. “I felt my voice was this horrible intrusion on what was a good song,” Gira said in a 2012 interview with Pitchfork. Karen O’s voice brings a quiet strength to the lyrics, which are just abstract enough to keep the song thematically aligned with the slightly otherworldly feel of The Seer. And, finally, there’s this set of lines:
“Some people say God is long dead
But I heard something inside you with my head to your chest.”