The Breakdown: Conan Gray on 'Alley Rose'

  • 2 months ago
THREE ALBUMS INTO his career, Conan Gray wrote what he calls his “first ever love song,” a lovelorn ballad titled “Alley Rose” from Found Heaven. The 25-year-old musician had written about love before, but not from the perspective of having truly been put through the emotional wringer by way of a real, reciprocated relationship. On the latest episode of Rolling Stone‘s The Breakdown, Gray delves into how “Alley Rose” — written on his own and produced by Greg Kurstin — emerged as the one song on the album that details the aftermath of the crush he spent most of the record singing about.

“I don’t really write about things immediately after they happen,” Gray explains. “After I have enough perspective, then I start to write about situations in a way that’s more accurate to how I felt rather than just like, ‘Fuck you!’ It’s a lot more nuanced when I give myself time to write about something.”

Gray had written entire albums about crushes, unrequited feelings, and internal reflections before — his 2020 debut Kid Krow and 2022’s Superache — but he wasn’t prepared for the way heartbreak could bulldoze his process. “[“Alley Rose”] made it on the album very much at the very, very end, because I hadn’t really been planning on writing about a breakup until I got broken up with,” he says. “And then I was depressed for seven months and didn’t write and couldn’t work because I was severely ill.”