"Keep on Talking"

Scroll down to read more about the story behind the song. Hear the song on Spotify (link below), or listen and buy from my "Music" page

You flash your power suit
flaunt your stacks of gold
You think the human heart
can be bartered and sold
Save all your bills
I won’t be one of your shills
You can keep on walking
‘cause I’m already gone

I hear you talk so big
always sneering a dig
You build yourself tall
by making others small
The sound of your voice
is music to your own ears
You can keep on talking
‘cause I’m already gone

Why don’t you play fair?
Why can’t you be nice?
Do you sell your soul
for any asking price?

You say I’ll stack the deck—
deal you in
buy you fortune and fame
(yeah you’re good at this game)
But when I’m burned by the flame
I’ll know who to blame
You can keep on talking
‘cause I’m already gone

Keep on talking
I’m gonna keep on walking
You can keep on talking
‘cause I’m already
gone

One of the biggest surprises for me as I have been on this crazy journey of learning how to write and record my own songs has been the generosity of fellow artists. The impetus for writing the song, “Keep on Talking” came from enjoying hearing Bob Malone play the piano at a Tosco Music Party. Bob played the piano with such full abandon, joy, and skill that it was exhilarating to watch. I joined his email list and began following his career. (He has a solo career as well as playing in John Fogerty’s band.) A year or two later, I had the chance to speak to him at a small concert. I told him I enjoyed his music so much that recently, when I was in the recording studio, I told the piano player (Chad Lawson, who is, stylistically almost at the opposite end of the spectrum but equally as enthralling) to “channel Bob Malone” and sent him some Youtube videos to listen to. Bob got a kick out of this story. A few weeks later Bob launched a kickstarter campaign to fund his most recent cd in which he offered to “play a track for your cd” for an astonishingly affordable amount. I bought it. But I had no idea what I wanted him to play. I was working on recording my first full cd of original songs and was a song or two short of a full cd, so I knew what I had to do. I needed to write a song for Bob to play.

I knew I wanted the song to allow Bob to show the range of his talent, so I hit upon the idea of making the piano a character in the song. The piano would be a show-off—an over-the-top, ego-centric scene-stealer. What better show-off than a bully? At the time (summer of 2015) it seemed that cyber-bullying and crass political dialogue (whether in social media or on tv) seemed to be reaching a crescendo. I tried to keep the description of the bully full of specific details but attached to neither gender nor specific traits (other than a bully). I wanted to rally the audience around the idea that we don’t have to feel helpless or retaliate when encountering a bully. We can use our commitment to respect and honor each other to take away the bully’s power. We can refuse to participate—refuse to give the bully the attention he or she craves.

Three years later I see the song in a different light. As a society we pretend to be offended by bullies, but in reality I think our individualistic, hero-worshipping culture secretly loves bullies. In the same way that I thrilled in Bob’s “over-the-top” playing style, we love the “over-the-top” nature of bullies. We love their brashness, their confidence, their “to hell with everyone else I’m going to get what I want” fortitude. Propelled by social media and the frenetic pace of our lives, it takes a lot to get our attention. Nothing leads to irrelevancy sooner than being boring; bullies are anything but boring. And (in Hollywood fashion) we love the story even more when a hero appears to swoop in to put the bully in his or her place. We love a good fight.

And so lately when I perform this song, I am aware of the thrill of swaggering with bravado: facing the bully and saying "I'm not afraid of you!" It's enacting a fantasy we all have of saying the perfect thing at the perfect moment: putting someone else in his or her own "place". So maybe the song isn't really a call for solidarity with others around respect but a fantasy of empowerment. But it sure is fun.