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  • Writer's pictureIan Galipeau

Creation Stories: Can't Go On

I don’t remember specifically when I wrote "Can't Go On", but it was approximately 2014. I know Barack Obama was in his 2nd term - I wrote the first verse to channel my disappointment with his administration. Though I voted for him twice, the optimism of 2008 had faded considerably in the midst of ongoing wars, the Edward Snowden leak, the Wall Street bailout, and seeing the consequences of Citizens United unfold. The use of “HOPE” and “CHANGE” in that verse was a deliberate dig, pointed in that direction. And I know I wrote it prior to 2015, because I was still frequently playing Acoustic Thursdays at Fritz's in Keene (RIP to that lovely music scene). I am sure of this, because for a time I would open my sets there with “Feelin’ Alright” by Joe Cocker (I know that song is originally by Traffic… but let's be real. It’s a Joe Cocker song.), and I wrote "Can't Go On" because I wanted an original with that kind of vibe.

Lyrically, each verse expresses my frustrations with the world at that time (how quaint!) - the first verse I mentioned above, and the second verse refers to escalating tensions in Israel, and the war in Syria. The final verse is directed at people who were vocally opposed to same-sex marriage. The Supreme Court ruling that legalized it nationwide was still a year or two away, and there were some very loud segments of the Evangelical community railing against the idea... which I found to be a stupid, hypocritical, and hateful thing for a Christian community to waste their time on. The bridge is my hippy-dippy solution to all these frustrations; "love is the answer" may be trite and idealistic, but it’s the best I’ve got.

Fun fact about this song - the album version uses different chords during the verses than when I play it solo. When I perform it by myself, I use the same four chords through the whole verse and chorus. On the album, I simplified the verse chords around the bass line. That wasn’t initially my plan, but it ended up working better and allowing the song to settle into a better groove. The chorus section is kind of overwhelmed with vocals - I think there are five parts of me and another two of Aly. My mixing engineer Robby Miller didn’t immediately know what to do with all of them, because seven-part vocals kind of overwhelm everything else, if they're mixed so you can hear each part. I said that was okay, and ‘big gang vocal’ was the point - and with that permission, he nailed it. I love Justin Gregory's drums on this track, which he self-recorded on a suitcase kit in his home office. Props to Robby for making them sound great in the mix - they were well-performed, but the original tracks definitely did sound like a suitcase kit in a bedroom. The final drums sound tight and vintage and funky. I definitely recommend working with really talented people.

“Can’t Go On” is track 3 on my album Like We Were Never Here At All. Listen here.


I’ve seen change fall like wishes down the well

Bought and sold like the hope I dared to feel

Freedom’s ring is just a story that we tell

Oh no

But it can’t go on

Seems to me just like hell is raining down

Fire from heaven falling on the holy ground

Killing ‘til there’s peace, just like our father’s showed us how

A war is won, oh no

It can’t go on

Love is a fire, let it burn in your bones

Let it light up your world when the darkness is closing in

Love is a fire let it burn in your bones

Let it light up your world, ‘cause it’s all that we’ve got

Breaking down your brother for the way he’s made to love

You best decide to find some kind of shelter from above

‘Cause that bible in your hand sure as hell won’t be enough

Oh no

It can’t go on

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