Americana Highways presents this premiere of Billy Keane’s song “Never Give Up,” which was written, produced and recorded by Billy Keane; mixed and mastered by Alex Saltz of APS Mastering. “Never Give Up” is Jackson Whalan on electronic drums, Miles Lally on bass, and Billy Keane on vocals, guitars, and everything else.
Big, bold heartbeat bass drums launch this song up into the atmosphere of hope. The sound is as rich and glorious as the intention of Billy Keane’s songwriting.
I wrote “Never Give Up” in self-quarantine two or three weeks ago, in the same situation I imagine most people have been in lately. It’s such a strange thing to say that—sometimes it still feels like fiction. I was looking around, seeing my friends and loved ones through screens, seeing the fatigue, the stress, the pain on their faces, hearing it in their voices. It’s a desperate thing, to not be able to provide comfort to those we love with the kind of physical closeness we’re used to—an embrace, a kiss. I don’t think I truly understood the power and necessity of that closeness until this quarantine experience took it away from us.
I just released an album with The Whiskey Treaty Roadshow in January, and since then I’ve been back in a writing phase, recording demos in preparation of a solo album I plan to record this year. It will be my debut album as The Real Billy Keane. Kicking off my solo project again, focusing on writing new material—”Never Give Up” sprung out of that mindset, and evolved within the environment of this strange and difficult time.
The music came quickly—the melody, the shape of the song was there, but I struggled over the message at first. The lyrics came and went, I wrote and rewrote and I rewrote again, until finally it distilled itself down to its most basic parts—I can’t be with you now, but I am with you. I’ll always be with you, as you’ll be with me. With that knowledge and the strength that comes from it, I know we can make it through this. We can make it through anything. I recorded the song that night, laying down the guitar tracks, in my very basic home studio. Then I dove into the vocals right away, added some kick and snare, strings came next, and there it was.
The next day I asked my friend Jackson Whalan, a local producer and musician to add some instrumentation to the beat, and shortly after I asked Miles Lally to record the bass line. I’m grateful they were both into it. They did incredible work. It’s a blessing that these days, all of this can be done individually—safely in isolation—and then assembled via file sharing. Once I had the tracks, I sent everything off to Alex Saltz at APS mastering for the mix.
I hope “Never Give Up” brings some peace, joy and encouragement into the lives of those who listen to it. This term “pandemic”—I don’t think it just refers to the viral spread of this disease. Fear, loneliness, desperation—they can be contagious, too. But so can hope, love, compassion and courage. Let’s try to be carriers of these things. Let them spread virally, too. That’s my intention with this song. I hope it can help spread the messages that we can be apart but together, that we’re strong enough, and that we will never give up. –Billy Keane