Today’s Special Song for Now: St. Vincent, “Digital Witness”

Is this a great song about the dangers of social media, or the greatest? You decide.

Released as a single in the first week of 2014, “Digital Witness” was written by Annie Clark, AKA St. Vincent as a commentary on the impact of social media on our present lives. It was triggered, she said, by the new widespread dependence of people on the instant judgment of “a million digital eyes, validating our experience.”

It was the second single from her fourth album, St. Vincent. She performed it on “Saturday Night Live” on May 17, 2014, the last show of their 39th season.

The record was produced and engineered by John Congleton. Annie plays the guitars and bass, Homer Steinweiss of the Dap-Kings is on drums, and percussionist McKenzie Smith of Midlake plays percussion.

The only other musician on the track is the late great sax player Ralph Carney, who died in 2017. Famous for playing sax and more with Tom Waits, he also played with The Black Keys (Patrick Carney is his nephew), Elvis Costello, on many of Hal Willner’s great tribute albums.

That raw resonance of the horns on this track comes from his self-contained horn section, anchored by the dark reedy timbre of his big, low baritone sax, a sound Waits also peppered throughout many of his own records.

The horns play a percussive part on the track, which Annie knew was needed. “I knew the groove needed to be paramount,” she said. “I wanted to make a party record you could play at a funeral.”

Digital Witness
By St. Vincent

Get back, to your seat
Get back, gnashing teeth
Ooh, I want all of your mind

People turn the TV on, it looks just like a window, yeah
People turn the TV on, it looks just like a window, yeah

Digital witnesses, what’s the point of even sleeping?
If I can’t show it, if you can’t see me
What’s the point of doing anything?


This is no time for confessing

I want all of your mind

People turn the TV on, it looks just like a window, yeah
People turn the TV on, it looks just like a window, yeah

Digital witnesses, what’s the point of even sleeping?
If I can’t show it, if you can’t see me
Watch me jump right off the London Bridge

This is no time for confessing

People turn the TV on and throw it out the window, yeah

Get back to your stare
I care, but I don’t care
Oh oh, I, I want all of your mind
Give me all of your mind
I want all of your mind
Give me all of it

Digital witnesses, what’s the point of even sleeping?
If I can’t show it, if you can’t see me
What’s the point of doing anything?
What’s the point of even sleeping?


So I stopped sleeping, yeah I stopped sleeping
Won’t somebody sell me back to me?


©Words & Music A Div Of Big Deal Music LLC

St. Vincent, “Digital Witness”
Live with Dallas Symphony Orchestra
Winspear Opera House, May 17, 2015
Email Paul Zollo: paul@americansongwriter.com

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