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The Journal of Literary Satire | Hastily Written & Slopilly Edited
Wednesday, July 19, 2006   |    Shreek of the Week of the Day

Swear? You Shouldn’t Swear, Young Man.

“Swear” by Tim Scott, from the EP Swear
Third week of August, 1983

timscottswearalbumcover.jpgTim Scott’s “Swear” is one of those songs that goes unrecalled for years until by some odd chance it is heard again. My theory is that it gets bypassed in the mental hit parade because its basic electric guitar hook is so repetitive and familiar-sounding that, even the first time around, it sounds like you’ve already heard it and grown tired of it.

That’s not to say that this track is unlistenable. It’s well-produced in a generic eighties manner. Mr. Scott has a decent tenor voice at his disposal when he cuts loose, and he proto-raps in a fast-paced,
staccato-syllable white-guy style without losing the beat. But he also wrote this song, and must therefore take responsibility for its striking lack of substance.

Right from the get-go, “Swear” establishes its one and only theme. It is a song about suspicion:

I won’t bother asking you what you’ve done

Fuzzy, unresolved suspicion, as it turns out:

Though the rumors all point to some’n’ goin’ on

And as the song continues, it begins to sound more and more like unfounded, jealous, drunken accusation:

See, the past is the past, and I’m not gonna dwell
But I’d better never catch you with someone else

Which eventually blossoms into full-blown needy ego-whining:
Swear that you love me
Swear that you need me
Swear that you want me
Swear! Tell the truth!

From this point on, the lyric develops no further; the attention wanders, and one begins to wish for the arrival of Johnny Cash to introduce a plot development of some kind, preferably involving alcohol, proper names and one or more tragic bullets.

Instead, Mr. Scott spends nearly four minutes alternately accusing and begging his significant other, who, if she has any sense at all, has by 1:18 packed her bags and left him to wallow in his paranoid misery. The unfortunate listener does not have this option, and is therefore forced to listen to him ramble on until he seems to pass out and fade away, leaving a group of confused musicians and backup singers to raid the refrigerator and stop up the toilet before finally finding their way out of his dark and filthy apartment.

Best Part: Should I strap a lie detector to your heart? To your heart?

Dale Dobson