Singled Out: John Pippus' Walk Away
When I perform "Walk Away" live, I set it up by telling the audience that it's "an ode to mass transit". That's not really true. It was actually written one morning when I was still ticked off at what happened the day before, when I drove out to the suburbs (from downtown Vancouver, where I live) to rehearse with a songwriter friend. This particular hour-long drive was like descending into my own private hell. Endless road construction, endless traffic jams, uptight drivers stewing in their cars. Once I eventually got to where I was going, all I could see was row after row of cookie-cutter houses.
To top it off, on the drive back to the city, I got a speeding ticket that cost me $167. I was "speeding", (actually driving quite reasonably, given the conditions) on the only short stretch of highway where there was (miraculously) only light traffic.
So when I sat down to write this song the following morning, I was fueled by frustration and anger. The drive was the catalyst but I expanded the rage outward to include a jaundiced look at our so-called normal life. The lunacy of long commutes, every one locked up in their own little carbon monoxide maker. Soul destroying suburbs, interchangeable with every other suburb across North America. Lives that have no passion. That's what the song is really about.
The main riff came to me quickly, it fit the mood of the song, and I didn't over think it. There's a middle section, a breakdown, that ventures into Captain Beefheart territory. My bass player challenged me to do something different with the song, so I was thinking of him when I wrote this discordant part. The 'traffic jam' section I call it. When it came time to record the vocal, I sang along with this part just for fun, never intending for it to be on the final mix. But when producer Adam Bailie and I heard it back we thought it was hilarious. And besides, it reinforces the group insanity of driving back and forth from home to work and back again, in endless lines of traffic, day after day, without questioning what we're doing to our souls and our planet.
Hearing is believing. Now that you know the story behind the song, listen for yourself and learn more about the album right here!