Song You Need to Know: Billie Eilish, 'When I Was Older' - Rolling Stone
×
Home Music Music News

Song You Need to Know: Billie Eilish, ‘When I Was Older’

The silver-haired singer rides a wave of maturity on her remarkable contribution to the ‘Roma’ soundtrack

Billie Eilish performs at the 2018 KROQ Absolut Almost Acoustic Christmas at The Forum, in Inglewood, CalifKROQ Absolut Almost Acoustic Christmas 2018 - Day 2, Inglewood, USA - 09 Dec 2018

Billie Eilish performs at the 2018 KROQ Absolut Almost Acoustic Christmas at The Forum.

Amy Harris/Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock

When director Alfonso Cuarón asked Billie Eilish to contribute a song to the soundtrack for ROMA, she and Finneas O’Connell—her brother and main collaborator—were drawn to a line of dialogue spoken by Marco Graf’s character: “When I was older I used to be a sailor, but I drowned in a storm.” They took the line and ran with it.

“When I Was Older” is part haunting lullaby and part electronic eulogy, with Eilish’s silky vocals giving the impression she’s singing underwater, but it’s where she wants to be. “I’m on my back again/dreaming of a time and place/Where you and I remain the best of friends,” she laments. It’s almost as if the narrator from her 2016 breakout hit “Ocean Eyes” has swam a few laps in the sea and emerged older, wiser and intimately acquainted with Autotune.

Eilish and O’Connell were given access to the sounds used in the film. “Lines like ‘Memories burn like a forest fire’ are accompanied by the sounds of the trees burning in the woods outside the house. The chorus has the ocean sounds overplayed on it,” the siblings said in a statement. “Nothing about this song would exist without the film, which is exactly what we love about it.”

 

Newswire

Powered by
Arrow Created with Sketch. Calendar Created with Sketch. Path Created with Sketch. Shape Created with Sketch. Plus Created with Sketch. minus Created with Sketch.