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  • Shona McCarthy

Shibuya 東京 / Swan Song by Dua Lipa


(I recommend listening to Swan Song by Dua Lipa as you read this post. It will help you better understand and imagine the sensation I had that night.)

(Image from Pixabay, 2019.)

Sometimes, when I'm feeling down, I listen to "Swan Song" by Dua Lipa. It instantly takes me back to a night I spent wandering around Shibuya alone, just off the Shibuya Scramble. I entered the area mostly wanting to take it off my bucket list. But since I was in Japan to travel back in time rather than forwards on that trip, I wasn't expecting to like it at all. What I found was that something inside me was switched on once I realised where I was. In amongst the crowds of all the people. Watching all of those bright flashing lights and billboards against the night sky. Crossing the Shibuya Scramble for the first time. Then over and over in rapturous excitement. I felt that I had changed into a creature of joy, of dreams and of energy. I started listening to Swan Song by Dua Lipa over and over as I wandered the streets, interrupted only occasionally by the Buddhist punk of Vogli Bonze.

(Image from Pixabay, 2019.) I had spent the previous year believing that I was terminally ill. I had spent the past ten years feeling that I was forever trying to claw my way out of a bottomless pit. I had wasted so much of my life scared to open my eyes, 'cause what if I find nothing at all, nothing at all? But something inside me changed that night. Something inside me knew that this night of a realised subconscious dream was a turning point. The three years I had spent at university had flushed some invisible quality out of me. But that night, the bright energy of the lights was soaking it back into me. It's a new life. Listening to swan song, swan song, swan dive, it's a new life I was overtaken with this feeling that everything I had suffered, all the pain, all the loss wasn't for nothing. That all that struggling had put a flicker burning inside me, and it was about to become a flame. I was going to die one day. But not before I had lived: God was going to fan it out, push up the heat till someone could hear me screaming with every cell in my body. I won't stay quiet, I won't stay quiet. To stay in silence is the same as dying. He was somehow going to use everything I had become. I won't stay quiet! The flickers burning out!

(Image from Pexels, 2020.)

All the people I walked by that night had no idea who I was. Tread heavily 'round me. They didn't know how alive I felt for the first time.Tread heavily 'round me! I wasn't born to be silent and to do nothing. Tread heavily 'round me. But even silently I was screaming with joy at the buildings of Shibuya. Tread heavily 'round me! It was an echo that no one would hear. Tread heavily 'round me. But someone would feel it: feel the life I felt flowing through me from the crowds and the flashing lights. Tread heavily 'round me! The frenzied energy flowing through me. Tread heavily 'round me! I understood in those hours that I hadn't simply been born to suffer. We've just gotta hold on tonight. This is not a swan song, swan song, swan dive. It's a new life. Nor was I born simply to be defeated. Nor did I need a rescuer. I was born to fight. I was born to survive. I was gifted with my own kind of power and strength. Diamonds, diamonds breaking down. And I was about to use it, even if I didn't know how. Sometimes, when I'm feeling down, I remember those moments. I remember that I don't have to let anyone or anything knock me down ever again. Tread heavily 'round me! And even if they do, I can roll onto my back and start kicking with all my strength. I never want to give up. I want to remember the way I felt that night in the Shibuya Scramble. I want to keep kicking till I die. If you take no prisoners, you can never be taken prisoner. If you keep fighting, you never really lose. You know the time's running, running out. Life is so desperately short. What is the reason of doing nothing at all, watching it fall?

This is not a, this is not a swan song. We've just gotta hold on tonight. This is not a swan song, swan song, swan dive. It's a new life.

(Lyrics from Swan Song by Dua Lipa. Writer(s): MATTIAS PER LARSSON, ROBIN LENNART FREDRIKSSON, TOM HOLKENBORG, DUA LIPA, JUSTIN DREW TRANTER, KENNEDI KATHRYN RAE LYKKEN)

(Acoustic version. So good.)

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