Piano Girl: A Memoir

Piano Girl: A Memoir

Piano Girl is the story of one woman’s accidental career as a cocktail-lounge piano player. Sometimes poignant and often hilarious, this engaging memoir reveals the comedies, tragedies, and mundane miracles witnessed from the business side of the keyboard. A pianist in lounges and lobbies around the world, Robin Meloy Goldsby tells her story by connecting the people she has met with the places she has played and the pianos she has known. Along the way she discovers the human side, for better or worse, of her audiences mobsters and moguls, the down-and-out and downright scary, and ordinary people dealing with life in extraordinary ways. Her tale provides insights into the art and craft of piano playing as well as inspiring lessons in life as Robin pursues her dreams on her own terms.

Editorial Review

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Goldsby regales readers with stories from her 30 years as a cocktail lounge pianist in this vivacious memoir. Starting out in dreary roadhouse bars and motels during the 1970s, Goldsby eventually worked her way up to tonier venues: the Marriott Marquis and the Grand Hyatt in New York City, a posh resort in Haiti, castles in Europe. Along the way there were false starts—an audition for the circus, a few months singing in an ill-fated all-girl nightclub act, a stint as a piano-playing stripper. It’s all the stuff of comedy for Goldsby, who has a wicked sense of humor and a keen eye for the absurd. Playing in a bar is great, she figures, because she can watch the never-ending show on the other side of the piano: the celebrities, nobodies, drunks, tipsy matrons, stalkers, music lovers and music haters, and a rogues’ gallery of colorful misfits. She even finds humor in her replacement at the New York Marriott—a mannequin seated at a player-piano. She also has a touching affection for her assorted co-workers, who include a waiter who charms everyone with his “tragic optimism” after having been diagnosed with AIDS, a restroom attendant who sells designer dresses out of a toilet stall for the handicapped and a waitress whom Goldsby inspires to start her own career as a pianist. This is a bighearted, funny, truly eye-opening memoir.

Listen to Robin talk about Piano Girl on NPR All Things Considered.

Published: 2005