I’m Drew Gasparini. I’m a composer, lyricist, and singer/songwriter and I have a new album out. It’s the original studio cast album of my new song cycle We Aren’t Kids Anymore, featuring performances by Colton Ryan, Raymond J. Lee, Lilli Cooper, Nicholas Christopher, and Bonnie Milligan. Hope you enjoy these little stories, factoids, and tidbits about each song. And beyond that, I hope you all enjoy the album—now streaming everywhere music can be found!
I hope you all love listening to the album as much as we loved making it for you! And I hope these songs speak to you and connect us all. I’m thankful that I’m able to offer something new and something hopeful during these difficult times. Stay strong and thank you so much for listening, and for your endless support over the years. Here’s to many more!
HELLO, MY NAME IS DREW
I wrote this song in 2017 completely by accident. I was sitting at the piano monkeying around on some chords and I just kept singing the first lines: “Hello, my name is Drew. I want to know if you would listen to my music. I’ve been working so damn hard on writing something worth a damn.” I repeated it and repeated it, literally not even trying to write a song. Around this time, I was preparing for another one of my 54 Below shows, where I wanted to present a ton of new, very personal material (most of that material became this very song cycle). Much like a stand-up comic testing out their newest five minutes at an open mic, I frequently use my shows at 54 Below as a testing ground for songs that will end up in fuller, more developed pieces. At the time, I was worried that a set of autobiographical songs would seem self-involved, so I decided to start the concert by acknowledging it and leaning into it, using “Hello My Name Is Drew” as a cheeky, on-the-nose introduction to what the audience should expect. Since that one-off performance, the song has evolved from a solo to an opening group number with more depth, dynamics, humanity, and rawness. And even though it’s my name being mentioned again and again, the intention is that this repetition helps make my name irrelevant. It's not really about me—it's about all artists, whatever their names. It's an invitation for audiences and listeners to find themselves in We Aren’t Kids Anymore. A happy accident that grew into one of my favorite opening numbers I’ve ever written.
ON THE EDGE
This song is certainly a reflection of how I was feeling at the time of writing it, particularly in my own career. I was doing that thing that I am very vocally against doing, where you watch others succeed and use their success to define yourself as a failure. Yeah. That dumb thing. Writing this song was my way of shaking myself out of that. Looking at how far I’d actually come, knowing full well that there was still a long road to go before I was “where I was supposed to be.” This song, like many others, made its debut at 54 Below, and was later performed in front of 1,000 people in Virginia alongside the Virginia Symphony Orchestra. Then it landed in We Aren’t Kids Anymore… and it is cemented on record by none other than the legendary Bonnie Milligan.
Let me tell you all something: there are many great singers in the world, but when it comes to delivering power, grit, and emotion, Bonnie Milligan is unbeatable. She made this song go from pop/theatre stand-alone, to a full-fledged anthem! This was also my very first time getting to work with Bonnie after years and years of knowing her and being a fan. I’m glad this was the first song of mine that she sang. Between her performance and the track that Justin Goldner produced, this song f***ing slaps. (Sorry for swearing, mom! But it f***ing does!)
DANNY & ANDREW
I will likely say this about many of the songs in this song-cycle, but it’s important to know that every word of this song is 100 percent true. My brother Danny is my hero. He is my best friend. And in my eyes, he could do no wrong. So, when we were kids and he told me how funny it would be to steal our sister’s dolls and “scrape her Barbie’s boobs off on the concrete in the driveway,” you just laugh right along with Danny, and you do it. Without thinking. Without caring how upsetting or traumatic that might be for your kid sister. You just do it, because he’s your hero, and if it’s funny to him, it must be the funniest thing ever. Now that I’m an adult I realize how odd and twisted that was, but it still makes me laugh. It even makes my sister laugh.
The songs on this album about my family are obviously personal, but when you have an actor like Colton Ryan singing them, they suddenly feel like they are about anyone’s family. Everyone’s family. Not just mine. This song fills me with joy because it makes me think of my favorite person ever. My big brother Danny. While we were in the studio my co-producer Justin and I had our jaws on the ground. We were amazed at Colton’s ability to act this song out just with his voice. So pure. So genuine. So heartwarming.
I WISH I NEVER MET YOU
I could listen to Nicholas Christopher sing this song (or any song) all day. He has this super power where it doesn’t feel like he’s singing. It feels like he’s having a conversation with you, and that is a gorgeous trait in a singer. I’ve known Nick for years, so it was easy for me to trust him with the material he was given. He was very gracious with this song in particular. I wrote this song after my engagement ended. The phrase “I wish I never met you” sounds like a break up song, but this is a love song through and through. Sometimes relationships end because of factors outside of the two individuals involved. Sometimes certain things are out of our control. The lasting impression as you try to live your life without that person but somehow can’t seem to shake them from your daily thoughts. This song is best summed up in a line from the last verse “I wish I never met you so that I could have the joy of meeting you for the first time once more.” See? It’s a love song!
TURN THE PAGE
One of my personal favorites off the album! This song basically takes the sentiment of “I Wish I Never Met You” and flips it on its ear. It’s not about holding onto the love. It’s about needing to let go in order to move on; or in order to (wait for it)…. turn… the… page? (See what I did there?) Anyway, it just so happens that Lilli Cooper sings this song. I don’t know many people in the theatre world who do not know Lilli Cooper, but I think this song redefines what you already know about her as a performer. She lifted the emotion of it so much and at the same time, she makes it sound like it could be an honest to goodness pop single. I’m so heckin’ thrilled with her performance of this song! Lilli, you’re great and you crushed this song to gosh darn smithereens! Gosh darn!
THE THING I LIKE THE MOST ABOUT NEW YORK
My little love letter to NYC. New York City is my favorite city in the world. I am proud to live in this amazing city. This city has made my dreams come true. And, like most New Yorkers, I love to complain about it. I initially wrote it for the heck of it. It was a simple, stand-alone comedy song written for Andrew Kober (one of my favorite New Yorkers) to sing at one of my concerts. While piecing together We Aren’t Kids Anymore, we made sure our themes centered around an artist’s relationships. Relationships with people, family, addiction, joy, pain, etc. And since this whole piece stemmed from my personal journey, I thought I needed to incorporate a song that represented my relationship with New York City. It is safe to say that you don’t just live in NYC, you truly have a relationship with this city. I love how this song evolved from a solo into a group number. Every single day in NYC practically is a group number. From the terrifying costumed Elmo in Times Square, to the MTA, to being a New York dreamer who is New York tough—this song covers it all. And the five New Yorkers on this cast album took no time at all to create that bustling New York City energy. And now that I’m writing this during the COVID-19 pandemic, I need to say, I really miss the high energy of this city, and I look forward to the day we can all be celebrating on the streets and filling Broadway theaters again! Love you, New York!
This song was written because blah blah blah—have you heard Ray's voice on this track? Good lord he is wonderful! I will always find reasons to work with Raymond J. Lee. He is one of Broadways secret weapons, and I am thrilled with his work on this album. Anyway, back to the song: “Something Good.” This song took me 10 minutes to write. Maybe this is cheesy, but sometimes I have an easier time saying what I’m feeling in a song rather than in a conversation. That is part of my approach to writing from time to time and it helps me discover a lot about myself, which I certainly did in writing this song. “Something Good” is a conversation I never had with a friend, and I wish I had. And again, Ray’s performance on this… you can hear that conversation.
I wrote a song about my brother (“Danny & Andrew”), so I knew I had to write a song about my sisters Kasie and Chloe. They are both artists and they are amazing young women. So much of why I love my relationship with my brother is that I get to be his little brother. A role I have within the family and a role I love to play. But my other favorite role in the family is as big brother to my two little sisters. A role I take very seriously. So, I treated the writing of this song very delicately,and gosh, I’ll be damned if Colton Ryan didn’t come into the gosh darn studio and make me gosh darn cry all over my gosh darn self. He creates such gorgeous visuals with just his voice. Every breath, every graceful detail to the story that I was trying to achieve as the writer, was accomplished by Colton with his delivery of this song. This is not the last time Colton will make me (or any of you!) cry while listening to this album.
Bonnie Milligan is an absolute rock star. Her voice is explosive. Her power is endless. Her vulnerability is right where you can see it. Once again, I would just love to say, I’m so damn happy I finally got the chance to work with her on this. She slays this song.
“Faking Cool” is a confession. A reflection of my reality. It takes a lot of work to pretend to be as cool as I pray people think I am. A song about the insecurities we secretly have, the walls we put up, and the version of ourselves that we are for everyone but ourselves. Bonnie creates another anthem on this album with her performance. Fun fact about this track: We had to record this album in different chunks in order to work around our five vocalists’ busy schedules. Because we couldn’t get all five singers on this recording day, during the a cappella section at the top of this song you will hear me singing alongside Bonnie and Ray! In the libretto, it’s meant to be Lilli’s voice. But don’t be fooled. That’s me on those notes. That little factoid is for all the diehards and mega nerds out there. Love all you theatre nerds.
I’M NOT FALLING FOR THAT
This is another knockout performance by Raymond J Lee. Here’s what’s amazing about the recording of this track: Ray did what must’ve been six trillion takes of this song, each take as amazing as or better than the last one, and he didn’t bat an eye. Any tenor will tell you this isn’t the easiest song to sing once a night, let alone six trillion times in a row. And when he was done he casually went to go play Iago in Aladdin on Broadway. Honestly, it was thrilling to watch the whole cast kill it in the studio and then go to their jobs, where they have to sing a whole lot more afterward. Pros! Such pros. Anyway, this song is about having the same argument over and over again. Once again… a song I wrote about how I felt before actually having the words to say how I felt.
ON AND ON AND ON
I think of this song as a bit of a palate cleanser for the album. It’s the first (and only) duet. Tonally, it lives in a very different world than most of the other songs on this album. And after hearing both Bonnie and Lilli sing power-pop anthems and up-tempos throughout the album, this song brings out a completely different performance from both of them. It’s gorgeous. This song doesn’t necessarily sound like something I would typically write, but it was another one that just sort of appeared. I had all the words I was feeling and wanted to say, and I had the melody and accompaniment locked and loaded. It’s a strange song to try and explain, but it is basically a reminder to remember the struggle. Success is hard to maintain, and as an artist it’s easy to take your “gift” for granted. I feel like it’s important to not forget how hard it was. If you don’t acknowledge the struggles and obstacles from your past, you might as well phone in the future as well… and on and on and on and on we go. Lilli and Bonnie did beautiful work on this song.
THE ESSENCE OF GEORGE
Returning to the theme of family, “The Essence of George” is about my dad, George. Again, I wrote this about my father, yes, but it is my hope that people hear this song and it makes them think about their dad. And yet again, my homie Colton brought me to full on tears in the gosh dang studio! Anyway, I’m quite proud of this song, as I think it tells my dad’s story very well. The man just wanted a family. It is all he knew he wanted. It’s nice when the good guy wins. And though my father has had several hardships and struggles in his life, I like the part of his story where he wins. He gets the family he always wanted. To sum up, this is a song about a good, hard-working man who wanted nothing else but to be there for his family. Love you, pop.
WHAT THE HELL AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE?
What the hell are any of us doing with our lives? Here’s a little secret: Even the people who say they have their shit together have no idea what the hell they’re doing with their lives. Sometimes it’s the people who seem to have their shit together in particular who have the least idea what the hell they are doing with their lives. This song was always intended to be a group number, because I think even the title is relatable to everyone. So, it should be everyone’s song! Much like “The Thing I Like the Most About New York,” our five dope-ass singers had no trouble at all getting into the chaotic spirit of this song.
I wrote this song at a time when I was walking through uncharted terrain emotionally. And it was odd. Instead of taking any initiative to work on myself and figure out where my issues were stemming from, I would go out of my way to be the sounding board for others who were going through their own shit. I’d be a shoulder to cry on. They’d thank me for my understanding and support. They’d feel better and go on with their day. I’d stay there sitting in the same mountain of undealt-with shit as before. So… that’s where this song came from! And this cast on this album makes this an absolute standout. You can literally hear how much fun everyone was having!
CAUGHT IN A LOOP
This song is brought to you by too much wine. “Caught in a Loop” was written on one of those amazing, drunk nights where the only conversation worth having was with me, myself, and I. In “I’m Not Falling for That” we experience a couple having the same argument on repeat. “Caught in a Loop” takes that idea of a conversation on repeat, only the conversation is with yourself. Questioning your self-worth, admitting to your own laziness and bad habits, but always finding someone or something else to blame for your missteps. Bonnie Milligan gives mind-bending performances all over this damn album, but this is my personal favorite. Every reason this song needed to be written is heard in every note that she sings. Her performance, once again, takes a simple thought (“I’m caught in a loop”) and turns it into yet another anthem. An anthem that says “I’m better than this, I’m braver than this, I’m brighter than this.” Bonnie blew me away, and wouldn’t ya know it! This track is definitely one of my top three favorites!
MOM COULD PLAY GUITAR
I love my mom very much. This entire song is a thank you note to my mom, thanking her for music. My mom was masterful at getting kids engaged with music. She’s taught music in the Bay Area for 30-plus years. She taught me how to play a D chord on the guitar, which led to me writing songs, which led to a life and career in music and songwriting. My mom is a complete bad ass. It’s bananas to me how easily we all take our parents’ sacrifice and hard work for granted. I owe my whole life to my mother—which I certainly knew, but I never really thought about regularly. Once again I wrote this song about my mom, but Colton gave this tune a beautifully universal portrayal. Colton is one of the most special, brilliant, and unique performers I know, and this is one of my favorite performances of his. Ever.
Fun fact about this song: The first time it was ever shared was at 54 Below in 2017. It was performed brilliantly by my best friend Alex Brightman (aka Beetlejuice). I wanted him to sing it because, like me, he and his family lived in the Bay Area. He sang the song while his actual mom was in the audience. And, of course, my mom was sitting right next to her. They wept in each other’s arms like the song was for both of them. That night it was for Kele Gasparini and Melissa Brightman, but now that this album is out, this song is for moms all over the world! And hey, everyone, call your mothers! And tell them you love them! Being a mom is a hard job. Say thank you every once in a while.
This song was difficult to write, because it is painfully true. The only detail in the song that is not true is in the lyric: “I found rock bottom at Park and 88th” … that’s not true. I actually found rock bottom at 96th and Riverside, but “Park and 88th” made for a better rhyme. Justin Goldner did something beautiful to the orchestration of this track by adding a clarinet to it. It paints a very melancholy, romantic, New York City vibe as the backdrop for what is lyrically a truly bleak song.
I encourage people to listen to Ray’s performance of this with their eyes closed. He narrates this moment in my life with such great detail, giving these lyrics such warmth when the song is otherwise so cold. I’m really thrilled with how it turned out. It’s a hard song for me to listen to, personally, because of the moment in my life that it represents. But I hope you all enjoy the song and the storytelling. My thoughts while writing this song are well described in the final lines: “This is not necessarily some fun kind of song that I want my mom hearing about me.” Warning: You may cry.
WE AREN’T KIDS ANYMORE
Though “Turn The Page” is maybe my favorite track on the album, this is definitely my favorite performance of Lilli’s. Her performance of this particular song makes her feel like the narrator of the whole piece. Her delivery is both heartbreaking and comforting. It helps create a sense of nostalgia, a sense of fear, and a huge sense of “we are all in this together.” I love the nurturing feel of her performance!
Small tidbit about this song: it was almost not a song at all! There was an entirely different version of this song written for a musical I’m working on with Alex Brightman called It’s Kind of a Funny Story. It didn’t work for the show, and I thought that was the end of its life. But a year went by, I dusted off the chords, and I wrote about my very real, very reasonable, very relatable fear of adulthood. Finding less to be in my control. Finding the stakes of life much higher. Finding the need to succeed or impress taking over my thoughts. All of these fears were trapped in my head, and this song from a completely different musical became the home for them. And that’s how this song sprouted leaves and limbs. I feel like I took good care of this song while writing it. I wanted this to be a song for everyone I knew.
I’LL STICK AROUND
I wrote this song for myself. It was meant to be a little thing for me. Just a reminder. Just a tiny mantra for me to sing. For me to try to live by. The longer I kept this song to myself, the less “for me” it felt. I asked a friend of mine to sing it, Keith White. The song spoke to him in a way that inspired him to write a spoken-word poem to precede the song. The poem spoke to me so much that it is now forever in the libretto of the staged version of this song-cycle. So when theatres and schools license this show, they will see the weight and connectivity that Keith’s poem contributes to the song and the piece as a whole.
On the studio cast album this song was absolutely in the right hands. Nicholas Christopher's vocals on this song in particular bring chills up my back. His voice makes my spinal cord turn to pudding, and his performance is so uplifting that it feels like a spiritual experience. I have a feeling this will be a really popular track off the album based mostly on Nick Christopher’s performance.
WHEN I GO
This song is our epilogue. The whole album centers around the artist’s journey, and this song basically answers why we choose to go on this journey to begin with. I am a lucky little shit, because this album was made with many lovely people. My long-time manager Erica Rotstein made this album happen, my long time musical collaborative pal Justin Goldner produced the hell out of these tracks and made some sick arrangements, and on top of that I got my five favorite voices on Broadway to be a part of the original studio cast album. Colton Ryan, Bonnie Milligan, Lilli Cooper, Nicholas Christopher, and Raymond J. Lee each brought their own individual personalities to their tracks and found something to connect to in the material. The group numbers were some of my favorite moments to watch in the studio because we really got to see their personalities come together. The campiness of “Hello My Name Is Drew,” the silliness in “The Thing I Like The Most About New York,” the chaos of “What the Hell Am I Doing With My Life,” and true earnestness on “When I Go.” This song is a perfect way to sum up the album. And these performers truly made it feel like a finale. I always like to close a show with a big number, and that’s how I wanted this album to end. And guess what: That’s exactly how this album ends. Big. I told you, I’m a lucky little shit.