Great Lake Swimmers – “Pulling On A Line”

Toronto’s Great Lake Swimmers are releasing their fourth album Lost Channels at the end of March (Nettwerk, 3/31). On it, the pristine intonations and detailed lyrical threads of Tony Dekker are surrounded by flute, guitar, drums, bass, pedal steel, other voices. See, for example, the suitably water-themed, eventual first single “Pulling On A Line.” We asked Dekker about its various lines about lines.

There are all sorts of lines in “Pulling On A Line.” The most important seems to be a line that connects everything — planes of existence, or whatever. What inspired the track? What’s the different between pulling on a line and having it pull on you?
I’m not sure how to break it down exactly, but if I had to sum it up I would say that it’s a song about lines, all kinds of lines. It’s sort of an abstract tug of war. The line being pulled in the refrain could be the act of writing or creating. It’s a constant give and take, a struggle, and sometimes you’re in control and other times you let it take over you.

You discuss fine lines and lines in the sky, but not as obviously lines in lyrics or a poem or a song. How does a line of text fit into the overall idea of the song?
The first line of the song could refer to a plot line, possibly. The creative line becomes a fishing line, the line of a kite, a border line, etc. Each of the lines might have their own implications in the creative process, possibly, and the lines themselves could all be drawn together. Sometimes I think the creative process is a lot like fishing, or like flying Benjamin Franklin’s kite, in the waiting for inspiration to strike.


You can catch the Swimmers on tour.