Tag Archives: Conor Oberst

Song-A-Day: February 15

This is the easiest one done yet, today is the birthday of Conor Oberst, a musician beloved by many in our radio station. Oberst has remained active post-Bright Eyes and recently released a new single titled “Hundreds of Ways” with a surprisingly upbeat message and backup vocals being provided by First Aid Kit. To celebrate Oberst’s day of birth, we choose the song that he wrote to himself placed on Noise Floor, “Happy Birthday To Me (Feb. 15)”.

All eyes on the calendar
Another year I claim of total indifference
To here, the days pile up
With decisions to be made
I’m sure all of them were wrong

Into this song I send myself
And with these drinks I plan to collapse
And forget this wasted year, these wasted years
Devoted friends, they disappear

And I’m sorry about the phone call and needing you
Some decisions you don’t make
I guess it’s just like breathing and not wanting to
Yeah, there are some things you can’t fake

Well, I guess that it’s typical
To cling to memories you’ll never get back again
And to sort through old photographs
Of a summer long ago
Or a friend that you used to know
And there below his frozen face
You wrote the name and that ancient date
And you can’t believe that he’s really gone
When all that’s left is a f***ing song

And I’m sorry about the phone call and waking you
I know that it is late
But thank you for talking, because I needed to
Some things just can’t wait…

Kyle’s Favorite 100 Songs: 10-1

Here’s the finale: songs ten through one on my 100 favorite songs countdown.

10. Bob Dylan- Don’t Think Twice, it’s Alright

I ain’t sayin’ you treated me unkind/ You coulda done better, but, I don’t mind/ You just kinda wasted my precious time/ But don’t think twice, it’s all right.

I adore Dylan as an influence, how could you not when so many of your favorite artists view him as an inspiration, but there’s only one song of his which actually stops me in my tracks. “Don’t Think Twice, it’s Alright” captures Dylan telling his girl that he’s leaving, and that he is doing it because of her. It’s the chance of getting hurt in the relationship that scares everyone, and Dylan goes through a bad one here where the girl “Just wasted [his] precious time”, and Dylan blames her for it because she didn’t do enough to try and make it work. Still, he makes sure to let her know that she doesn’t need to worry about what she’s done to him, because this is a risk that he knew about going in. He’s going to be able to get over this. There’s no desire to see her again, and he knows that she never really had the intention of hurting him in the first place, it just didn’t work out, and that’s alright.

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9. The Velvet Underground- Heroin

“Oh, and I guess that I just don’t know.

This list was made before the death of Lou Reed, but it’s difficult to not take that route while writing about it now. When Reed passed I had to learn about it through social media posts which took an overly symbolic approach to the subject, and as people re-explored his catalog they searched for the lyrics which suddenly looked more meaningful than previously thought. It’s cool that people found these connections, but I hated it because that overly-symbolic look wasn’t what Reed was about at all in my eyes. This wasn’t the man who tried to hide anything in his music, he was the guy who’d actually done it and wanted to let you how what it was. On “Heroin” we get a look at the the hope in the music alongside the gradual buildup and rush of the instruments which ultimately leads to the song’s ‘high’, but it never fails to fall back with what is in my opinion the best lyric that Reed ever wrote: “And I guess, that I just don’t know”.

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8. Animal Collective- Fireworks

“They’ve got two flashing eyes and they’re colored why/ They make me, feel, that I’m only all I see sometimes.”

There’s so much joy in “Fireworks” once you learn what to appreciate in it. The narrator is an observant and self-aware man who dreams one day of having a family he can take to the beach, to watch the fireworks. In his current life though he’s dealing with the same monotony as the rest of us and  he’s learned the routine of how to ignore the repeated questions and tasks he encounters every day. Instead he gets lost in thought about what he hopes for, he thinks about what his kid will think the first time that he sees the fireworks, and all the wonder that will be in his eyes at that point. But what if the child was color blind and just wasn’t able to comprehend what he witnessed? This view on experiential learning reminds him that what he views in the world is completely shaped by how he happened to view it when he was growing up, and leads him to think that “I’m only all I see sometimes”.

Continue reading Kyle’s Favorite 100 Songs: 10-1

Kyle’s Favorite 100 Songs: 20-11

Here are numbers 20-11 on my countdown of my 100 favorite songs.

20. Daniel Johnston- True Love Will Find You in the End

But how can it recognize you unless you step out into the light, the light?

Daniel Johnston is a difficult musician to familiarize yourself with because, in honesty, there is a lot of bad music in his discography. The reason why he’s important is that Johnston, the manic depressive and schizophrenic, has moments in his music which reach absolute beauty. “True Love Will Find You in the End” is a song which begs it’s listener to not give up the belief that you will find the one…eventually. It’s a song to represent the hope that if you stay open and yourself for long enough, one day luck will turn your way and you’ll find the perfect person for you; and that’s the point of everything. You can build up barriers and try to send off a false message, but if you continue to be yourself and look for love then it will find you in the end. “True love is searching too, but how can it recognize you unless you step out into the light”? It’s a discouraging quest (“Don’t be sad, I know you will”), but he believes in the promise of the reward.

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19. Bright Eyes- A Song to Pass the Time

“Now I have locked my actions in the grooves of routine/ So I may never be free of this apathy/ But I wait for a letter that is coming to me/ She sends me pictures of the ocean in an envelope

It’s not a part of “A Song to Pass the Time”, but the interview that precedes this song at the end of “An Attempt to Tip The Scales” is a very good introduction to this track. “A Song to Pass The Time” is told in a manner similar to what Dylan would do, in that they wrote down their observations and described real human interactions rather then trying to conjure a story with a point in mind. The difference between Dylan and Oberst is that while Dylan would say what was there due to his confidence and experience, the younger and depressed Oberst seems to focus on what he thinks is missing. Why does he love the mexican children kicking rocks in the street? Why are all the businessmen and suburban mothers so emotionless and repetitive? Why isn’t my desperation to stay close to the people who I’ve formed a close relationship with shared? I love the verse above because it shows Oberst’s hope that at some point love will just save him from all of this, and she’ll be able to help him understand everything that tortured him before.

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18. The Postal Service- We Will Become Silhouettes

“We become silhouettes when our bodies finally go.”

I love tragic songs that sound happy, and “We Will Become Silhouettes” is the poster boy for that category. Death is still a certainty, in fact it seems to tell the story of an explosion which will is going to kill us all, but it’s become a celebration because that’s when our bodies will finally become silhouettes! We shall become immortalized once “our shells simply cannot hold all our insides in and [then] explode”. Tamborello’s music is cheerful and stuffed with simple, melodic rhythms to represent the joy of the song in it’s own beautiful way, only one example of how well these two worked together on the album.

Continue reading Kyle’s Favorite 100 Songs: 20-11

Essential Albums: Bright Eyes- Letting Off the Happiness

letting off the happiness

A lot of WCDB DJs, myself included, drool over the work of Bright Eyes and frontman Conor Oberst. He’s likely the premier singer in the indie folk genre for the past generation, and has released a few albums and songs in his career which could easily be referred to as classics. Letting Off the Happiness came early in the career, following only A Collection of Songs, and it captured Oberst immediately before he started making the epic albums that would grow to define his career. One of the nice parts about Letting Off the Happiness is that Bright Eyes was still developing at that time, and you’re able to hear the birthing of some of the imperfections that became defining qualities within his career.

Continue reading Essential Albums: Bright Eyes- Letting Off the Happiness