At the Bottom of Everything

I love Bright Eyes and Conor and this god damn song. Every lyric is really beautiful. I actually was trying to choose a few verses to quote, but I couldn’t so here’s the whole song. The song is this weird perfect blend of sadness, angst and jubilant joy. Please enjoy it like I do. (aside: I didn’t include Conor telling the plane crash story that’s the intro to the song, but it’s not because I don’t like the intro (I love it!); I just didn’t include it.)

We must talk in every telephone, get eaten off the web
We must rip out all the epilogues from the books that we have read
And in the face of every criminal strapped firmly to a chair
We must stare, we must stare, we must stare

We must take all of the medicines too expensive now to sell
Set fire to the preacher who is promising us hell
And in the ear of every anarchist who sleeps but doesn’t dream
We must sing, we must sing, we must sing

And it’ll go like this, alright:

While my mother waters plants, my father loads his gun
He says death will give us back to God
Just like setting sun
Is returned to the lonesome ocean

And then they splashed into the deep blue sea

Oh it was a wonderful splash

We must blend into the choir, sing ecstatic with the whole
We must memorize nine numbers and deny we have a soul
Into this endless race for property and privilege to be won
We must run, we must run, we must run

We must hang up in the belfry where the bats and moonlight laugh
We must stare into a crystal ball and only see the past
Into the caverns of tomorrow with only our flashlights and our love
We must plunge, we must plunge, we must plunge

And then when we get down there,
Way down to the very bottom of everything
And then we’ll see it
Oh we’ll see, oh we’ll see it, we’ll see it-

Oh my morning’s coming back
The whole world’s waking up
All the city buses swimming past
I’m happy just because
I’ve found out I am really no one

Conor Oberst

I discovered Bright Eyes when I was pretty young (before high school) and totally loved them. I worshiped Dylan and saw Conor as a similar beast. I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning, LIFTED, and Fevers and Mirrors (later) were some of my favorite albums. Conor’s lyrics were always so introspective and brutally honest, and his melodies were always folk-punk-indie-bluegrass-rock magic. And then I discovered Conor’s 2008 solo album as a Sophomore when I was going through a tough time. Some of the songs were so brutally heart-wrenching, and I loved it. It felt more sincere and real than most things I’d heard.

And then Conor released his new solo album Upside Down Mountain the summer after that sophomore year. I vividly remember me and my ex-boyfriend being so excited to hear his new music and us listening through the whole thing on the 1-California late at night coming home from a show. What immediately struck us when we heard the first song, “Time Forgot,” was “holy shit Conor isn’t sad anymore.” We were happy for him! Really happy. I felt like I’d been there with him during the depression of his self titled album, and it was wonderful to see him move on to happier times. I love Upside Down Mountain. I think before that album I felt like good lyrics had to be either sad or about romantic love. Conor’s lyrics in that album showed me what else could be good fodder for song. Below are some of my favorite verses from “Hundreds of Ways,” the third song on the album.

What a thing to be a witness to the sunshine
What a dream to just be walking on the ground
What a time to live among the ashen remnants of our love
It came before and I’m still looking for that now

It took centuries to build these twisted cities
It took seconds to reduce them down to dust
And all the tour guide could say was
“Take your pictures folks it’s late, try your best please to remember what was done.”

Don’t look so forlorn
Don’t you look so scared
Don’t get so upset
This world was never fair

But there are hundreds of ways
To get through the days
There are hundreds of ways
Now you just find one

I think part of my problem was I felt like happy lyrics were never legit. Conor’s lyrics in the album are honest about how fucking difficult it can be to be happy, but that it’s POSSIBLE and WORTH it (also, of course, we know from his past albums about his sadness).

Anyways. Conor Oberst is wonderful, and everyone should listen to him beyond just the Bright Eyes stuff.