In Frightened Rabbit’s song “Swim Until You Can’t See Land,” a man dares himself to enter the icy waters of the North Sea. He compares it to a baptism or a “drowning of the past.” He may be trying to kill himself or he may just be testing his own limits. In his thick Scottish accent, singer Scott Hutchison repeats, “Swim until you can’t see land/ Are you a man, or are you a bag of sand?” As the song goes on, a string arrangement swells and the chorus builds and builds, with Hutchison repeating the line “Are you a bag of sand?” It’s so rousing and inspiring that when I hear it, I’m sure the swimmer is going to be okay. He’s going to prove he’s a man. Hell, it makes me want to go for a few laps myself, to prove I’m a man, too.
The other day, I was driving with my almost-five-year-old son, and “Swim Until You Can’t See Land” came on the radio. As it got to that big finale, I realized my son was singing along. He’s been singing a lot lately. The subject matter of “Swim” is not the usual choice for the preschool set, but his favorite song right now is “The Mighty Sparrow” — a Ted Leo and the Pharmacists song about a terrorist bombing — so he’s not bothered by difficult material. But I noticed that he had the lyrics to “Swim” wrong. He was singing, “Swim until you can’t say why.” I gently corrected him. He paused for a minute and then said, “This is the way I sing it.” My son is not yet a man, but he’s no bag of sand.
Plants & Animals and Bad Veins also perform.
FRIGHTENED RABBIT: House of Blues, Thursday, October 14, 7 p.m. 619-299-2583. $16.