Piano Girl Playbook: Notes on a Musical Life


Available everywhere in hardcover and ebook editions.

A pianist in lounges and lobbies around the world, Robin Meloy Goldsby tells her warm-hearted stories by linking people she has met with places she has played. Along the way, she connects the humanity of her audiences—princes and paupers, dreamers and doers, moguls, mobsters, wanna-bes, and has-beens—with the quiet soundtrack of her peripatetic, melodic life. Goldsby’s autobiographical stories and essays deliver insights into the art and craft of piano playing, the merits of live music, and how the right song at the right moment can add color and depth to a drab, one dimensional world. Music, it turns out, connects us in unpredictable ways.

From the Piano Girl Playbook Foreword (by Mike Edison): Goldsby is part lifeguard and part mystic, and like all great gurus, her heightened sense of the absurd and saint-like patience transcends that of most mortals. Playing the piano in the sleazy lounge in one of Donald Trump’s New York City Hotels, it’s amazing she didn’t throw it at someone. I’ve been to that bar, and it was everything that was wrong about New York City in the 1980s, but had to have been a step up from the airport lounge in Newark, NJ . . . or was it?

Praise for Piano Girl Playbook: Notes on a Musical Life

“In Casablanca, Humphrey Bogart tells the pianist in his bar—Sam, a man—to ‘play it again.’ In a remake, Sam would be Samantha, and she’d be played by Robin Goldsby, the undisputed queen of the lounge and lobby, and, by day, an accomplished writer. Piano Girl Playbook: Notes on a Musical Life distills what she’s learned about music and people and life. It’s the exact opposite of easy listening.” Jesse Kornbluth, HeadButler.com

“Goldsby spins her stories like a fine bebop solo, with down-to-earth themes and joyous what’s coming next?improvisation.” Bill Mays, jazz pianist

“Robin’s ability to find the humor in all kinds of situations and her astute observations of life and the people who populate it make this a warm-hearted and compelling read.” Kathy Parsons, MainlyPiano.com

“Robin artfully composes prose that lilts and sings across the page, creating ironic, poignant, uplifting stories that reverberate within, remind us of our shared humanity, and leave us laughing and crying — often both at the same time.” Melissa Volker, Literary and YA Fiction Author, Mother of Actual Dragons

“Piano Girl is one of the funniest and most poignantly revealing accounts of a musician’s life I have ever read . . . full of wry observation and self-effacing charm. I can’t wait for my copy of Piano Girl Playbook!” Don Airey, Steinway Artist and Keyboardist, Deep Purple

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Waltz Of The Asparagus People

The “Piano Girl” journey continues. “Waltz of the Asparagus People” follows the hero of “Piano Girl,” Robin Meloy Goldsby, and her family to Europe, recounting their adventures and frustrations as they learn a new language, adapt to a new culture, and find new friends. Sometimes hilarious, sometimes heartbreaking, and always insightful, Goldsby’s lyrical stories reveal the trials and triumphs of an expatriate musician’s life, as Goldsby connects her music to family, friends, and home, past and present.

“Goldsby has a wicked sense of humor and a keen eye for the absurd. This is big-hearted, funny, truly eye-opening memoir.” Publishers Weekly Starred Review of Piano Girl

“Goldsby’s tales are often laugh-out-loud funny, sometimes poignant, and always abundantly human.” Kathy Parsons, Mainly Piano

“Robin Meloy Goldsby is a great storyteller. You’ll feel as if you’re sitting beside her on the piano bench, observing all the people she recalls with such intimacy and personal warmth.” Barbara Cloud, Pittsburgh Post Gazette

“Be it a ballad or an up tune, this plucky lucky pianist arranges her memoir medley for us and plays it in the key of life.” Cheryl Hardwick, Saturday Night Live musical director, 1987-2000

“Goldsby’s wide-ranging stories possess a low-key, party-girl sense of humor. Exuberant, keen, and at times very funny.” Adam Bregman, Seattle Weekly

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.