Robert Earl Keen, ‘I Gotta Go’ – Song Review
Robert Earl Keen's new song gets your feet shaking and head bopping from the first strum of that funky little guitar riff that drives 'I Gotta Go' home. The rhythm keeps you off-balance, while the story keeps you pulled close to the speakers. This alt-country master makes songwriting seem so easy.
'I Gotta Go' is an outlaw's story. It's not Keen's story, as he wasn't born on the Day of the Dead, and he's not, well ... dead. The character he creates doesn't make it through to enjoy the last knee slap.
The song begins with, "Ain't got time to shoot the breeze / Got no time to blow / Excuse me Mr. if you please / I gotta go / Born one morning on the day of the dead / On a bombed out bungalow / My mama kissed my cheek and said / I gotta go."
From there, it's to an orphanage that can't hold him and a brief life of crime that steers this traveler to a high-stakes poker game. "Five card stud, deuces wild / Three kings in a row / I turned that diamond deuce and smiled / I gotta go." The song feels like it could be from the soundtrack of the next Jeff Bridges cowboy movie, or some sort of Bad Blake/Rooster Cogburn hybrid.
The chorus is simple, seemingly only plugged in because convention demands one. "I gotta go somewhere / I gotta go / Wasting time standing here / I gotta go." Soon we hear the inevitable end to this man's tale. "Cold steel up against my head / They turned the lights down low / In case you didn't hear I said / I gotta go / These are your very last words sir / Say 'em nice and slow / My last words on this planet were / I gotta go."
'I Gotta Go' is sure to become another quick fan favorite for this alt-country superhero. It's the sort of song that will drive people new to his style to pick up the new 'Ready for Confetti' album when it's available on August 30.
Listen to Robert Earl Keen, 'I Gotta Go'