Swing Life Away

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"Swing Life Away"
Swing Life Away.jpg
"Swing Life Away" cover
Promotional single by Rise Against from the album Siren Song of the Counter Culture
Released April 2005
Recorded The Warehouse Studio, Vancouver, British Columbia
Genre Acoustic rock, soft rock
Length 3:20
Label Geffen
Writer(s) Tim McIlrath, Neil Hennessy

Garth Richardson

Music sample

"Swing Life Away" is an acoustic rock song by punk rock band Rise Against, first released on the album Punk Goes Acoustic. The song is the second single and 11th track on their 2004 album Siren Song of the Counter Culture. Originally written by Tim McIlrath and Neil Hennessy, the song is distinguished from the majority of Rise Against's catalog because it is performed and recorded acoustically. The lyrics are optimistic and speak of contentment with a less-than-perfect life, although they maintain the band's characteristic themes of self-analysis and hope. At a show at Festival Hall in Melbourne, Australia, McIlrath stated the song was written about a good friend of the band who helped them whilst they were lesser known.


The song is an example of Rise Against's tendency to omit the third notes of their acoustic chords, using the resulting fifth chords with four or more strings to generate a raw-sounding guitar piece (as opposed to most other punk and alternative bands, which typically use full chords in their acoustic pieces).

lyrics [Verse 1: Machine Gun Kelly] Am I loud and clear? Or do I gotta scream like I did every day when I was a troubled teen, huh? Do you want to know my past and see every single scar and know what they mean, huh? 17 running up in Mickey D's begging for a double cheese, huh, Singing "I don't want to grow up don't nobody like you when your 23" I came from nothing but a fucking unsupportive father I don't ever see, I had to watch a crooked jury put my brother in the penitentiary, I never fit in. Criticism, made me the man I couldn't be, I'm reminiscing on when life was different spending every day at Chuckee Cheese, uh

[Hook: Kellin Quinn] We live on front porches and swing life away, We get by just fine here on minimum wage, If love is a labor I'll slave till the end, And I'll run these streets if you give me a chance,

[Verse 2: Machine Gun Kelly] I've been here so long, Maybe I should runaway, Try to find a summer day, What is love, Love is pain, Love is butterflies and stomach aches, Love is looking out a windowpane, tears dripping looking like you're in the rain, For someone you don't even know but for somebody you may never see again, I am only alive once, And I'm a die when God wants, So fill the sky with diamonds, Because that's how it's gonna look when I'm gone, Had a vision as a kid that one day I would change the world with my song, Several years have passed and now that vision came to life that boy's a fucking icon,

[Hook: Kellin Quinn]

[Bridge: Machine Gun Kelly] Sometimes I don't want to fucking wake up, When all they want to do is bring me down, And all the things I've went through as I came up, Are the fucking reasons why I run this town,

[Hook: Kellin Quinn and Machine Gun Kelly] We live on front porches and swing life away, (And to my fans, I told you) We get by just fine here on minimum wage, If love is a labor I'll slave till the end, And I'll run these streets if you give me a chance, We live on front porches and swing life away, (All my dreamers) We get by just fine here on minimum wage, (Stay real) If love is a labor I'll slave till the end, (And to my love) And I'll run these streets if you give me a chance, (Stay here) Swing life away, (What we do) Swing life away, (And what we do) Swing life away, (Yeah) Swing life away, (And we just) Swing life away, (Let's swing life away) Swing life away, (Let's swing life away) Swing life away, (Let's swing life away) Swing life away.

Song overview[edit]

Swing Life Away was released as a single in 2005, and peaked at #12 on the Billboard Modern Rock charts. The first version was featured in 2003 on Punk Goes Acoustic with a duration of 2:26. In 2004, the song was released with an added guitar bridge on Siren Song of the Counter Culture, clocking in at 3:20.

The song is available as downloadable, additional content for the Lips series.

Reception and legacy[edit]

"Swing Life Away" received mostly positive reviews, and has appeared on multiple lists of the best Rise Against songs.[1][2] Ultimate Guitar Archive praised nearly every aspect of the song, such as the "tear-inducing" lyrics, McIlrath's vocals, and its "sharp guitar sound".[3] Davey Boy of Sputnikmusic characterized the lyrics as simple but effective,[4] while Justin Donnelly of Blistering felt that "Swing Life Away" ended the album in "huge style".[5] In his review of Punk Goes Acoustic, Aubin Paul of Punknews.org wrote that the song has an "amazingly catchy guitar line".[6] Marc Hogan of Pitchfork Media gave a much more critical review, describing the song as a "drearily unpoetic acoustic weeper".[7]

Commercially, the song reached multiple Billboard music charts, peaking at number twelve on the US Alternative Songs chart,[8] number seventeen on the Bubbling Under Hot 100 chart,[9] and number ninety-five on the Pop 100 chart.[10]

Machine Gun Kelly cover[edit]

On June 26, 2013, American rapper Machine Gun Kelly released the mixtape Black Flag, which included a cover of "Swing Life Away". The cover has new verses written by Kelly, and features guest vocals by Kellin Quinn of Sleeping with Sirens.[11] Kelly stated that he "fucking love[s] Rise Against",[12] and wanted to record a cover of the song with Quinn.[13] Rise Against approved of the cover, after Kelly wrote a letter to the band explaining that he "wouldn’t do anything to make them or their song look corny".[14] Originally, Quinn had recorded vocals for an acoustic rendition, but Kelly decided against this, insisting that the cover be more melodic rock.[13]


Chart (2005) Peak
US Alternative Songs (Billboard)[8] 12
US Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles (Billboard)[9] 17
US Pop 100 (Billboard)[10] 95


  1. ^ Kim, Dave (September 23, 2012). "10 Best Rise Against Songs". WGRD-FM. Archived from the original on March 11, 2015. Retrieved April 3, 2016. 
  2. ^ Stuhr, Brandon. "Top 10 Rise Against Songs". WatchMojo.com. Retrieved April 3, 2016. 
  3. ^ "Siren Song Of The Counter Culture Review" (UG Team review). Ultimate Guitar Archive. July 26, 2005. Retrieved April 9, 2016. 
  4. ^ Boy, Davey (June 16, 2008). "Review: Rise Against - Siren Song of the Counter Culture". Sputnikmusic. Retrieved April 9, 2016. 
  5. ^ Donnelly, Justin. "Rise Against - Siren Song Of The Counter Culture (Geffen Records)". Blistering. Retrieved April 9, 2016. 
  6. ^ Paul, Aubin (October 21, 2003). "Punk Goes Acoustic (2003)". Punknews.org. Retrieved April 9, 2016. 
  7. ^ Hogan, Marc (September 8, 2004). "Siren Song of the Counter Culture". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved April 9, 2016. 
  8. ^ a b "Rise Against – Chart history" Billboard Alternative Songs for Rise Against. Retrieved April 13, 2016.
  9. ^ a b "Rise Against – Chart history" Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100 for Rise Against. Retrieved April 13, 2016.
  10. ^ a b "Rise Against - Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved April 13, 2016. 
  11. ^ Kaufman, Spencer (September 12, 2013). "Machine Gun Kelly + Kellin Quinn Perform New Take on Rise Against's 'Swing Life Away' [Exclusive]". Loudwire. Retrieved April 9, 2016. 
  12. ^ Hoffman, William (August 4, 2013). "Machine Gun Kelly reflects on the first-ever EST Festival". Cleveland Scene. Retrieved April 9, 2016. 
  13. ^ a b Ramirez, Carlos (February 27, 2013). "Machine Gun Kelly: Rapper Reveals Why He's So Influenced by Metal and Punk Music (Interview)". Noisecreep. Retrieved April 9, 2016. 
  14. ^ "Interview: Machine Gun Kelly". Acclaim. Retrieved April 9, 2016. 

External links[edit]