Daily Dose: Richard Swift, "Sept20"

Swift's posthumous The Hex is out tomorrow, Sept. 21 on Secretly Canadian

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Daily Dose: Richard Swift, "Sept20"

Daily Dose is your daily source for the song you absolutely, positively need to hear every day. Curated by the Paste Music Team.

Richard Swift’s final album, The Hex, drops tomorrow, Sept. 21 through Secretly Canadian. Swift, a longtime collaborator of The Shins, The Black Keys and more, died in July at the age of 41.

Listening to Swift’s final song, “Sept20,” is an experience in epiphany. It goes something like this: You listen to the song, a vaguely melancholy piano ditty elevated by Swift’s eerie falsetto, and maybe you feel a bit thrown off by the show tunes-y chorus. You might puzzle over where you’ve heard his name before. The first realization comes with seeing that today is Sept. 20, and that this song is supposed to be some microcosm of today. Then you see the single artwork, a scrawled note, and as you read along, you find Swift speaking the words into being. There’s scratches, cross-outs. It’s his lyric sheet.

You read more. You find out that Swift died in July. You read about his struggles with alcoholism and suddenly the lines “made a plan, fixing myself / trying not to drink from a poisoned well” hit a lot harder. You find out that he finished his album shortly before he passed, and that “Sept20” was the last song he recorded. Then you think about that—he recorded a song about a day that wouldn’t come for months, a day that would come long after he was gone. Why today?

You read that today was to be his 21st wedding anniversary. Instead, today was the day Swift’s family scatter his ashes in a private ceremony in Oregon. You read the lines “Death do us part / sickness and health” again. The last epiphany is that “Sept20” is the final manifestation of a person, his handwriting, thoughts and voice, and that you’re hearing it on the same day he returns to the Earth.

The Hex is out on digital tomorrow ahead of its Dec. 7 physical release. You can get a copy here.

Listen to “Sept20” below.