When I Was Young – My Solo Album from 1975 Mirrors John and Paul’s 1st!

“Who’s that knockin’ on my door? Come in Ricky, but I need to warn you, once you enter the house it will be October 15, 1975 again. But come in. My, but you look so young. Let me play you a song from my new solo record I’m working on. This one is called Little Boy (track 4).” Now that it’s tomorrow I’m convinced that I’m the one, who helped the kids and teachers have some fun.

Just to wake up to the morning sound of music spinning round and round my head. The house is on Juliet Street in South Austin. Alvin Crow and the Pleasant Valley Boys live just down the street. My roommates are Eric and Matt. Eric is a potter and grows lots of vegetables. Matt is a vegetarian who educates me daily in this new lifestyle.

john kays 1970
That’s me (John Kays), around 1970 or so.

I have a nice Martin acoustic guitar, a mandolin borrowed from a friend (John P. Franzen), a dulcimer, and a Two-Track Sony Reel to Reel (purchased in 1968), along with a couple of cheap Sears Roebuck microphones. When I Was Young was recorded starting in late September of 1975, extending to late December of 1975. There are 18 songs on the solo effort and I wrote all 18 (Dennis Hurley helped on Bakery Shuffle). The tape runs a little over 48 minutes, since this was the conspicuous length of this popular format, for we street musicians of the times.

Love shine love’s own insight. A line from The Mask You Wore (track 2). This is my favorite track on the album; but since I did it all, it’s a little hard to make a call. I would sit around my room (mainly in the morning) writing the songs, then proceed to record it the same day, doing some rewriting as I heard how it sounded on the play back. Two tracks is all I had. IE, one overdub allowed.

reel to reel tape deck
This is not the actual tape deck I used back in 1975. It was a Sony, but I never thought to take a picture of it, during that time.

It’s simplicity is its genius. Naturally, I was very influenced by John & Paul’s first solo albums. Also, John’s Walls and Bridges was just out then, so it was a huge influence. I’ve often felt that Dreamer’s Holiday (track 5) is the best song I ever wrote. This is actually the first demo for my signature song. When I wrote it, it seemed to come out perfectly as a complete song. A minor personal miracle!

Alice Found Her Wonderland in Hades! A line uttered right at the end of Famous Halloween Orgy (track 11). This one was a live recording at an actual Halloween party, with everyone just free jammin’. (Don’t have free jammin’ anymore, these days.) I can’t explain it cuz it’s greater than me, the ascension of Jesus is the same you see. A line from Rubber Ball (track 10), which is an effort teeming with Symbolism and Existential Theology, by way of some implied ironies of Christianity.

Crystal Ball (track 13) is a psychedelic instrumental that will get you dancin’! Shake a magic wand into stardust outerspace and give me your heavenly queen for my birthday. Orange Sun Queen (track 14) is pretty far out there. Let me know what you think, if you dare. The lines flowed out free form, like Here Comes the Orange Sun Queen. We would go to the Armadillo frequently in those days, if that helps.

when i was young
This is a simple, Blue Scotch tape box that contains my first solo album, When I Was Young.

Okay, so by the time you get to Buddha Left His Body (track 16), I’ve totally left town. But listen carefully to Little Bit Colder (track 18) for some insight into how I felt as if people were being hurtful and callous towards me (in 1975). Maybe I don’t wish to revisit those memories just now. PAY ATTENTION! No one has ever heard this tape all the way through except me. Now it’s public for the first time. I’d say enjoy, but get yourself up on the cross would be more appropriate. By by.

1. When I Was Young, 2. The Mask You Wore, 3. Lord Of Kings, 4. Little Boy, 5. Dreamer’s Holiday, 6. Look Out Chicago, 7. Sitar Musak, 8. She’s The Girl, 9. All Right, 10. The Rubber Ball, 11. Famous Halloween Orgy, 12. Crystal Ball (Instrumental), 13. Glasses, 14. Orange Sun Queen, 15. Matinee Mandolin, 16. Buddha Left His Body, 17. Bakery Shuffle, 18. Little Bit Colder

*A special thank you to Joe Franzen for the transfer from reel to reel over to a digital format. Then to a live file streaming on the internet. The 36-year-old tape is finally out of a musty archive box and in the ears of millions, perhaps even dozens of people. From DEATH. To LIFE. That’s how I see it!

It’s the Blue Scotch Box below the grey Ampex tape box you should go to. It has a huge beer stain on it (so it’s easy to find), but it still plays, fortunate as it is for posterity. Narcissism never goes away, but I’ll return to my AMC movie, Pet Sematary for now, and let you be until another day.