By David Haynes
For independent artists, it can be challenging for your work not to go unappreciated in its time. Thankfully, the internet has created a space where independent artists can re-release work that they are proud of without the gatekeeping presence of labels and tastemakers. And for the lucky listeners in 2021, New York songwriter Bobby Blue has decided to reintroduce his video for “Go” to a fresh set of eyes and ears.
There’s a nostalgia to the sounds of Blue’s work. Like the Postal Service or the post-Soft Bulletin era of the Flaming Lips, Blue crafts a sonic palette that is cold and electronic while still remaining catchy and inviting. The song’s guiding light is Blue’s near-angelic voice. Crafting a melody that dances between the synth-pads and bit-crushed drum sounds, Blue imbues “Go” with a sense of dread. The song sounds as if it was once a pop song that has been stretched thin. In the chorus, Blue sings “You’ve got to go live your life / if you stay here, your dreams will die.” The country guitar solo cuts through the largely electronic mix, and really takes the song to new heights.
Not only does Blue give us a truly haunting listening experience, but the accompanying video is a work of homespun terror. Certainly a reflection on the ways that technology has harmed us, the video treatment for “Go” centers on a human whose entire life is dictated by the whims of a madman and his accompanying robot sidekick. The protagonist’s memory is implanted via an SD card. It’s a futuristic approach to what is already occurring to us now. Even more so now than in 2010, our lives are controlled by social media and technology. Perhaps, Blue was trying to warn us of what lies ahead.
As the information age is giving way to the age of influence, “Go” offers us a chance to look back at the past decade and see how far we’ve come. As Blue delivers a haunting yet catchy melody over a host of electronic noises, his voice echoes across the past decade to remind us to step outside of the digital world every once and a while. If we don’t, our “dreams will die.”
Watch the video for “Go” below, and be sure to check out the rest of Bobby Blue’s catalogue on Spotify! https://open.spotify.com/artist/0uaeB232OPFrvOyOxiNNyN?si=K1Ux2fvyQpSTdviJgpgDNw
Trigger Warning: Video contains strobe effect
You released this song and video a while ago. What made you want to return to this song?
I feel like the video needs to be seen more it’s just so good! I asked my artist friend Sara Antoinette Martin if she’d like to help me create a video for my song, and she lead me to screenwriter/videographer, Ian Cinco. We had a little meeting and they asked me what I liked and I said “I like Robots”. Ian came up with this unusual story about two house robots; one is an older model and the other is all brand new. They were very good friends. The newer robot liked to go exploring while the owner was out. The older robot would plug in to her during maintenance to experience where she had been. In the end the older robot uploads himself into her and they escape! It has so much heart! The actress, Elizabeth Webb, who plays the new robot is my lovely lifelong friend. Sara Antoinette Martin designed and sewed all the costumes. Sara is an illustrator/tattoo artist in NYC. Ian Cinco is an also multi-talented NYC artist. We spent around $400 I think. Hard work and long filming hours… like a movie
The video was very challenging to make and only a handful of people have seen it. I think on YouTube it only has 1800 views over a few years. I tell people it’s a mini-film. I’ve been thinking to rekindle it for the sake of submitting it in film festivals too
Did you have technology and social media on your mind when you wrote the lyrics?
I remember standing in the NYC subway station and came up with the chorus while waiting for the train. I had a friend who I was secretly in love with and he’s one of those guys who says he’s always going to do something but never does. I was pretty attached to him so every time he talked about moving to Central America I always took it as that he wanted to get away from me. The song is kind of a “push from the nest’… like, if you’re gonna go then just fuckin’ go already lol
Your voice is so gorgeous, and the melody of this song is perfect. Do you usually start with melody, or do you start with chords/music?
Thank you. Go is one of the fastest songs I ever wrote. Songs write themselves all very differently. I think the lyric “you’ve got to go” and the melody came together at the same time
One gorgeous Sunday afternoon while busking on St. Mark’s Place last pandemic Summer a guy asked me to work on an indie musical with him, which is cool. I’m writing for a character; like my songs have to be from the emotions of another person which has been a good exercise for me
I also enjoy singing Spanish Folk songs, Rockabilly, and old Country covers on stage.
My band does a great western cowboy version of Don’t Fence Me In
Your newer material is pretty folk-oriented. What made you shift towards acoustic instruments after writing songs like “Go?”
I know… I’ve been told I need to pick a genre many times. I love singing and I want to sing everything. Who wouldn’t? I think that if you are an instrumentalist it might make more sense that you learn to play by playing a certain genre. Though think about famous singers: Sinead O’Connor, Madonna, Donny Osmond, even Brittany Howard… every freakin’ album is completely different according to which producer they work with. Once I start putting together a few songs I get a feeling and a storyline in my head. I was really into Xanadu and ELO when I wrote Go, and the other songs on that album. I wanted everything to sound like a spaceship flying though the universe. I do, however, absolutely love acoustic instruments and I’m Costa Rican so I like to think that everything has at least a little bit of a Latin sound if not a lot. I even prefer hand drums and a Cajon to a full drum set. Plus to me if a song is truly good it can shine as an a cappella or with only an acoustic guitar or piano.
What’s next for you?
Haven’t you heard? Gay people go to hell! Lolololol – I guarantee if I go to hell then I will have some good company and I’ll probably end up running things… just call me the future Mayor of Hell lolololol. Next will be a collection of acoustic songs. I’m a huge Madonna fan so I’ve recorded a re-imagined version of Don’t Tell Me written with her Brother-In-Law Joe Henry. My version is a folky Latin explosion with a melancholic vocal. I’m also working on a song/video that tells my story of being bullied in my youth called I’ll Survive. I don’t think people understand the extreme of bullying, and it’s something I’m choosing to leave behind and to have closer with. I just watched that new Tina Turner documentary and it was everything spiritual! “Leave it all behind” and “I don’t need to open that box again”. Gotta love Tina!