93: Walking Away a Winner

93: Walking Away a Winner

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Country Music

Walking Away a Winner

Story by Bob DiPiero

Song written by Bob DiPiero and Tom Shapiro

Recorded by Kathy Mattea

When I wrote “Walking Away a Winner” I was either in the middle of, or quickly careening toward, a messy break-up. I was hoping that I was going to take the high road, like the singer in “Walking Away a Winner” did. The line “with my pride intact and my vision back” — who could say that in real life? But I could say it in a song. So I was whistling past the graveyard, so to speak.

We wrote it in 1992 or 1993, and Kathy Mattea cut it in 1994. It was written quickly because the idea was pretty well fleshed out from the start. I was writing with Tom Shapiro, who is one of the best songwriters of our generation. When you’re writing with someone of his caliber, once you latch onto a really strong idea, the song kind of creates its own kind of internal energy. So then it’s just a matter of riding it and then going back and tweaking the weak parts later.

“Walking away from a losing game” — some people just can’t do that. To me, it’s a song of empowerment. Even though Kathy sang it, it could be from a guy’s point of view, too. That’s the powerful part of the song — the singer is saying, “I might be losing here, but I didn’t get all my teeth kicked out. I’ve learned from it. I don’t think I’ll go there again.”

“When love is on the table, the stakes are high,” because you are just laying yourself out there for someone and, of course, this includes the possibility of getting hurt, too. That’s what this person in the song is going through, but they’re taking something positive out of it. That’s where I think the power of that song lies.

I’ve talked with a lot of people who have said, “That really helped me during a difficult part of my life. I was feeling defeated and broken and that song really helped me get through it.” That’s all you can hope for when you write a song: that it will affect someone’s life personally like that.

Walking Away a Winner

Any time love is on the table the stakes are high

And I thought this was love so I laid it all on the line

You nearly took everything I had. Never knew I could hurt so bad

But at least I left with every piece of this heart of mine


I’m walking away a winner

Walking away from a losing game.

With my pride intact and my vision back, I can say

I know where I’m going and I know I’ll be all right.

I’m walking away a winner, walking back into my life.

It was a hard way to go when I didn’t know when to leave

And if you knew all along baby, you weren’t telling me

Now I know what I can live without.

I’m heading down the right road now

Still believing in the way that a real love is meant to be


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