The Tale Behind The Tune

Don’t Walk On Me by Bob Kettle

Don’t Walk On Me by Bob Kettle

HALFWAY through my interview with Bob Kettle on the inspiration behind his song “Don’t Walk On Me”, the phrase “This is my truth, tell me yours” entered my mind.

The title of the fifth studio album by Welsh rock band the Manic Street Preachers, the phrase was taken, I am told, from a speech made by Labour politician and former coal miner Aneurin Bevan.

In just seven words, “This is my truth, tell me yours” acknowledges that one person’s reality can be very different to someone else’s but it also urges you to reach out to find out why. It encourages understanding and empathy, something Bob Kettle clearly has in droves, as evidenced in the lyrics to “Don’t Walk On Me”.

The inspiration behind “Don’t Walk On Me”, a song funded by Wigan Healthy Arts and the band Bob helped co-found, Merry Hell, came as Bob listened to the life story of John Melia, one of his care clients.

Bob discovered that John, who was “a big music fan and a lovely guy”, had experienced a difficult life, not necessarily because of his physical disabilities and learning difficulties but because of the way others had treated him. “This”, said Bob, “made me really angry”, so much so that he sat down with John to get his story on paper before forming a song out of John’s own words.

I’ve had to take the lies and hate of fools who cannot see
If not for chance and a different face they’d be just the same as me
They laughed at me, they put me down, but it was never funny
‘Cause I was hurt and found life rough, they called me ‘Dopey Johnny’

Bob Kettle (inspired by the words of John Melia)

Once complete, John took the song to his Merry Hell bandmates who, with Wigan Healthy Arts, decided to jointly fund its recording with the aim of bringing light into the life of a good-hearted man who has suffered dreadful abuse.

With Bob on banjo and vocals, assisted by his brother and producer John Kettle, who plays all of the other instruments, ‘Don’t Walk On Me’ also features a vocal contribution, right at the end, from John Melia himself.

Said Bob: “The song tells of John’s hurt but also the effect that finding the love of his wife, Elizabeth, has made to his life. What John says at the end of the song is the message he wants to put out into the world.”

You can learn more about John’s truth, via the words and music of Bob Kettle, in the interview below.