Robert Gay's “When I Was Young” is a coming-of-age record. It’s about growing up, leaving home, and learning why love is so important.
Like the Beach Boys’ “Pet Sounds” or Big Star’s “#1 Record,” it pairs the memories of youth with melodic hooks and a summery feel, but not without the ache of something buried beneath the bright surface.
Growing up, it turns out, may be less about car keys and more about car crashes. Leaving home may mean feeling lost and lonely, and love may be paired with the most painful kind of loss. Not every wreck has a survivor, after all.
Youth is now something to memorialize. It is a portrait of all that was lost, and a lens through which adulthood is projected. Suddenly the days that might seem trivial become the most valuable. Suddenly every postcard and photograph and bike ride becomes a candle lit in tribute. What happens when the future is unfamiliar and filled with new threats? What happens when this is a world that can end a life before it really begins?
These songs are the questions and answers birthed from new love, old friends, long drives, dead ends, late nights, first fights, vacations, graduations, hellos and goodbyes. They’re from that critical moment -- when past and present and future collide: When I Was Young.