Young Man's Game

Album: Shore (2020)
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Songfacts®:

  • Fleet Foxes frontman Robin Pecknold is not renowned for his sense of humor but on this Shore track he pokes fun at some of his past quirks and hang-ups.

    I could worry through each night
    Find something unique to say
    I could pass as erudite
    But it's a young man's game


    Pecknold admitted to American Songwriter that on Helplessness Blues (2011) and Crack-Up (2017) he was self-conscious about ensuring every song had to be serious, but on Shore he allowed his wry sense of humor to come to the surface. "It felt almost like a kind of therapeutic exercise to let a song be silly," he said. "And to have the lyrics touch on why. Thinking of that kind of self-consciousness as a young man's game and maybe it's OK to just let your hair down and let a song have some humor. You can still be a serious artist if you're making something funny."
  • Pecknold told EW the cheery, upbeat song is about leaving some of his old insecurities and delusions behind. "I used to be afraid of losing my youth and people would always say it's a young man's game to bemoan that, so I was trying to reframe that for myself," he explained. "When you're 20, in addition to having all the energy in the world, you're also lazy and insecure and confused. And my younger self would have been too self-conscious to make a song that's trying to be funny in any way. So I'm happy that the song that's a bit jaunty musically also had the lyrics about that same kind of thing."
  • Pecknold references Arthur Lee, the frontman of the '60s psychedelic and folk-rock band Love.

    I could dress as Arthur Lee
    Scrape my shoes the right way


    Pecknold explained the lyric to Mojo magazine: "I remember thinking that Arthur Lee was the coolest guy in the world. I tried to mimic him for a while, but it is strange to carry that kind of mimicry into adulthood."
  • The song features an ad hoc children's choir rounded up by ex Walkmen frontman Hamilton Leithauser. The singing group comprises his two children: Georgiana and Frederika Leithauser, plus their friends Juliet and Faye Butters. Pecknold told Apple Music: "I thought it would be funny if Hamilton's kids were on it. My original idea was to have it sung by a 10-year-old boy, and then that was just too gimmicky or something. But I wanted there to be kids on it because it's referencing immaturity or naiveté - things about being young."

    The same young quartet also sing on another Shore track, "Wading In Waist-High Water."
  • Robin Pecknold plays all the instruments except for drums and percussion, which are performed by Homer Steinweiss. A founding member and drummer of Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, Steinweiss is also a popular session musician whose most notable work was recording on Amy Winehouse's 2006 Back in Black album.

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