The Secret You Can't Bear to Keep

by Willow Steps

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  • Compact Disc (CD) + Digital Album

    Limited edition three-song CD in handmade card-stock jacket. The CD includes the two-song EP "The Secret You Can't Bear to Keep" and the Single "Simple Song about a Girl".

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"The Secret You Can't Bear To Keep is an audio novella documenting Strickman's relationship with one of his closest friends. A story of time, love, and heartbreak."
- Victor Valle, The Bay Bridged


released September 24, 2015

Jesse Strickman – songwriter, voice, guitar
Leiya Mahoney – vocal harmony
Guest musicians: Chris Nishimoto – percussion, glockenspiel, third part harmonies; Matt Cascardi – bass; Graham Patzner – violin; Lewis Patzner – cello. Group vocals by Erica Chen, Stephen Michael, Yarrow Doerfler, and Maia Wiitala. Recorded by Bryan Lovett & Chris Nishimoto. Mixed by Derek Schultz. Mastered by John McBain. Artwork by Willow Steps, conceptualized by Stephanie Tait. Cover layout by Brian Azevedo with photography by Nathan Abercrombie.
Track 1 recorded by Derek Schultz and mastered by Paul Gold of Salt Mastering.


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Willow Steps Oakland, California

Willow Steps combines the folky, introspective tunes of singer/songwriter Jesse Strickman with the angelic harmonies of vocalist Leiya Mahoney.

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Track Name: Simple Song about a Girl
Let’s sleep together every night
Any bed, any floor, anywhere’s alright
Let’s let our bodies reunite
Oh, let's stay up just talking till daylight
Let’s whisper on train rides
And metal birds in the sky
Let’s be madly honest
Yeah, let’s keep every promise

Let’s go out and see the world
And just try to understand how this mess unfurled
Let’s make reality swirl
Having wine and psilocybes, laughing till we hurl
You can teach me your languages
I can teach you chord changes
We can just do whatever forever and ever
And never get tired whatsoever

Don’t wanna have a brilliant ballad about a girl who got away
I’d rather write a simple song about a girl who came to stay

I’m in love with your ideals
If you only knew how many arguments of yours I steal
And I admire what you feel
It’s always so good willed, so beautiful, so real
Getting old and ugly
Has never sounded so lovely
When every evil gives a scare too much to bare
You’ll be there to remind me there’s beauty still everywhere

Don’t wanna spend a lifetime singing about a girl who got away
I’d rather live a life of singing to the girl who came to stay
Track Name: Parting Pangaea
Pangaea broke like a poem
And set all the islands free
When the pieces set out for the ocean
Do you think they laughed with glee?
I bet they cried like babies lost at sea

When best friends become lovers
It’s not too far of a leap
One night of one unlikely Summer
After all our friends fall asleep
You kiss me like it’s a secret you can’t bear to keep

A fool for romances,
I can fall hard from a few advances
But I take my chances
And now one year together
Our hearts just know no better
Steered for forever
And you’re still my best friend

You take me across the world
To see the life you left behind
Show me your country, your culture, your family
We explore states of mind
But to make room for freedom your heart pushes me aside

I’m holding on
I still believe
So if you’re letting go
Do it gently

Life’s full of changes
Just when you forget what pain is
The good rearranges
And now we face a fire
Mom said I was born a fighter
So let’s hold on tighter
You’re my best friend

One day we’re kissing goodbye cuz I’m leaving
Saying, “We’ll be together soon. Yes we will”
And today I’m kicking myself for believing
We’d ever make it to a greener hill
That we’d really be together still
Our love never made it out of Brazil

I’m letting go
Since you let go of me
If you ever come back
Do it gently
Track Name: Promise
We could watch as the hands move
All so blindly on this wall
Brushing by, barely grasping
Any moments quite at all
So oblivious to life
And this world in which they guide
And the ties they build so close
Just to turn and wear through most

These hands are so stubborn
Incessant and determined
But I won’t let you slip
And watch you fall to their grip
This I promise

We could sit and hear the phone ring
Less and less with time
Notice that the meaning
Slowly drains from your voice and from mine

Such a bitter regret
One I could not live with
I won’t reduce you
To “that girl I once knew”
This I promise

I refuse to watch
With open eyes and empty thoughts
As the photographs lay dormant and abandoned
The remnants of something I lost

These hands are so stubborn
Incessant and determined
But I won’t let you slip
And watch you fall to their grip
No, I won’t reduce you
To “that girl I once knew”
This I promise

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