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‘Drowning’ by The Red Clay Strays - Lyrics & Meaning

July 3, 2024 9:24 am GMT

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The Red Clay Strays - ‘Drowning’

Label: RCA Records

Release Date: July 2nd, 2024

Album: Made By These Moments

Producer: Dave Cobb

Songwriter: Drew Nix

The Background:

After dropping the viral ‘Wanna Be Loved’ and the fan-favourite ‘Devil In My Ear’, alt-country up-and-comers The Red Clay Strays kept the momentum high ahead of their sophomore album, Made By These Moments, by releasing ‘Drowning’ on July 2nd.

The introspective, evocative offering finds the South Alabama five-piece delving into their mental health, with the lead singer, Brandon Coleman, likening his plight to ‘Drowning’. Penned by guitarist Drew Nix, the fact that this is a solo write makes this all the more moving, with Nix powerfully laying his emotions out for all to see.

It's a snapshot into the period of time before The Red Clay Strays blew up through the viral success of ‘Wondering Why’ in 2024, with ‘Drowning’ being written back in 2020.

The Sound:

‘Drowning’ finds Brandon Coleman showcasing a rasp and intensity he doesn't introduce into other, more romantic tracks such as ‘Wondering Why’ and ‘Wanna Be Loved’, which accentuates the intensity of the Made By These Moments stand-out.

Coleman's atmospheric vocals are surrounded by a stormy sea of electric guitars, which create an ominous sense of foreboding that mirrors the despairing mood of the lyrics.

The Meaning:

“This life feels like a battle

One that I can't win

Like I'm swimming against the current

Like I'm running against the wind

It's like I'm going overboard

With an anchor ‘round my waist

I lie awake at night with tears in my eyes

My heart beating out of my chest

There's no light at the end of this tunnel I'm in

I'm calling for an S.O.S.”

Throughout ‘Drowning’, the protagonist never wades too deep into the specifics of his troubles, rather, he conjures up an array of visceral metaphors and images that help to convey how much pain he's in. He describes his day-to-day life as a battle he can't win, before outlining how he feels as though he's being pitted against a cacophony of natural obstacles, from a violent tide to tempestuous winds. The phrasing of ‘My heart beating out of my chest’ suggests a feeling of anxiety, with Nix fretting about how he's going to make ends meet.

“Somebody help me I'm

Drowning

I can't tread much longer I'm

Fighting

To keep my head above water

Throw me a line, show me a sign

Everything'll be alright

‘Cause I feel like I'm

Drowning

Somebody help me out”

The hook revolves around the protagonist's calls for help, as he doubles-down on the ocean-based metaphor by repeatedly stressing how he's ‘Drowning’ and treading water. He asks for some kind of divine sign that things will work out, with Nix outlining in the ‘Drowning’ press release, “If you feel like you’re drowning, talk to somebody - there’s help out there. And if God sends you a boat, take it”.

“I try to see the world's true colors

But they're all just shades of gray

And it's only getting duller

Every passing day

And the more I fake a smile

The more I'm bound to break

I've never felt so alone in a crowd full of folks

I'm trying just to hide the pain

It's just a matter of time ‘til I can't see the light

And I hit rock bottom again”

Although the overall mood of ‘Drowning’ is forlorn, the protagonist regularly emphasises how he's doing his best to stay optimistic and “see the world's true colors”. At present, however, they all fade to a dull, depressing gray. Nix reveals that, the more he tries to pretend everything's fine in front of others, the closer he feels to breaking, as he feels as though he cannot truly express his pain for fear of looking weak.

“But it goes to show

There ain't always a boat

To lend a helping hand

But if I can find just one way to stay afloat

I'll find my way back to shore again”

Nix muses how not everyone can get the help they need when they're struggling with their mental health, before offering a glimmer of hope by remarking how, if he can just find the energy to ‘stay afloat’, he'll make his way ‘back to shore’ soon enough.

“Oh, Lord, I'm drowning

Lord, I'm drowning

Somebody help me out”

‘Drowning’ concludes with an emphatic call for divine intervention, with Drew Nix desperately pleading with God to throw him a metaphorical rope that'll rescue him from his plight.

The song is given a happier sheen in the knowledge that The Red Clay Strays are now enjoying the immense success they were yearning for back when Nix wrote ‘Drowning’.

What have The Red Clay Strays said about ‘Drowning’?

In the press release shared ahead of the track's arrival, the sole writer of ‘Drowning’, Drew Nix, touched on the circumstances that led to the idea behind the song, “In 2021 I was driving for Uber 10-12 hours a day, barely making ends meet. My wife Laurie Anne was taking on most of the chunk of the bills at the time because she had a steady job and we were still out of work mostly. I was really only making just enough to help pay rent. I remember the words and that melody coming to my mind ‘I’m drowning’ while I was headed to the gas station to pay for gas that at the time to continue Ubering. The debt was piling up and I was trying to save up for a ring at the time as well. Although I knew everything would be okay in time, it felt like I was treading water as long as I could stand. Things are much better now and I thank God every day that we don’t have to struggle like that anymore”.

Nix added a message of encouragement to those in a similar situation, “If you feel like you’re drowning, talk to somebody - there’s help out there. And if God sends you a boat, take it”.

In a heartfelt Instagram post shared the week before releasing ‘Drowning’, The Red Clay Strays explained how the vulnerable track came about, “[Drew Nix] wrote this song in 2020 when we were struggling and didn’t know if we could make this thing work. Looking back on it now it’s easy to say “thank God we didn’t quit”, but it’s a lot harder to have that mindset in the middle of your struggle. So if yer out there drowning, keep pushing, and don’t quit. You’ll be glad you did one day”.

For the full lyrics to The Red Clay Strays’ ‘Drowning’, see below:

“This life feels like a battle

One that I can't win

Like I'm swimming against the current

Like I'm running against the wind

It's like I'm going overboard

With an anchor ‘round my waist

I lie awake at night with tears in my eyes

My heart beating out of my chest

There's no light at the end of this tunnel I'm in

I'm calling for an S.O.S.

-

Somebody help me I'm

Drowning

I can't tread much longer I'm

Fighting

To keep my head above water

Throw me a line, show me a sign

Everything'll be alright

‘Cause I feel like I'm

Drowning

Somebody help me out

-

I try to see the world's true colors

But they're all just shades of gray

And it's only getting duller

Every passing day

And the more I fake a smile

The more I'm bound to break

I've never felt so alone in a crowd full of folks

I'm trying just to hide the pain

It's just a matter of time ‘til I can't see the light

And I hit rock bottom again

-

Somebody help me I'm

Drowning

I can't tread much longer I'm

Fighting

To keep my head above water

Throw me a line, show me a sign

Everything'll be alright

‘Cause I feel like I'm

Drowning

Somebody help me out

-

But it goes to show

There ain't always a boat

To lend a helping hand

But if I can find just one way to stay afloat

I'll find my way back to shore again

-

Somebody help me I'm

Drowning

I can't tread much longer I'm

Fighting

To keep my head above water

Throw me a line, show me a sign

Everything'll be alright

‘Cause I feel like I'm

Drowning

Somebody help me out

Oh, Lord, I'm drowning

Lord, I'm drowning

Somebody help me out”

For more on The Red Clay Strays, see below:

Written by Maxim Mower
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