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.

Dylan for Nighttime

 

Oh, I’m sailin’ away, my own true love
I’m sailin’ away in the morning
Is there something I can send you from across the sea
From the place that I’ll be landing?
No, there’s nothin’ you can send me, my own true love
There’s nothin’ I wish to be ownin’
Just carry yourself back to me unspoiled
From across that lonesome ocean

Only Dylan could successfully write a really gorgeous and not at all corny question/answer song and not have it sound like it’s straight out of the bible!

British Music Again!

Everyone who knows me is surprised by my patriotism on 4th of July. The truth is I feel like I’m pretty pessimistic and critical of the U.S. 364 days of the year, and I like having a day to celebrate the great ideas of our founding fathers and the crazy dream that is America. So I get pretty into 4th of July (also because I think fireworks are gorgeous and magical). This 4th I decided to listen to only American artists (forgoing any of my usual Beatles) for the day. This exercise actually proved quite difficult for those around me and made all of us realize how many foreign artists we could never live without. My best friend, Mia, was TORTURED by not being able to play any Rhianna (Barbados) or Drake (Canada), and my mother was upset that I skipped Gimme Shelter (Stones, England) when it came on Pandora. When it hit midnight (I was driving home) even I was ready to get my British music back.

Happy 4th of July!

It’s foggy here in San Francisco, but it doesn’t matter. We all know that the best rock songs can bring the sun out. So go sit outside with a portable speaker or a guitar, good food and good friends. While enjoying the food and fireworks take a few minutes to think about the Declaration of Independence and consider the progress we’ve made towards equality and the work we still need to do. But mostly just sit back and enjoy some good (American) music.

Here’s to peace, love and a more inclusive and compassionate (not greater) America!

Almost Famous

Almost Famous has to be one of my favorite movies, and without doubt this is the best scene in the movie. Everyone on the bus is disappointed to be going home and sad the adventure is over, and then suddenly “Tiny Dancer” just bursts out of all of them. It feels like the perfect illustration of music’s unique power to unite. And it really is one of those songs that makes your heart so purely happy.

Strange News of the Day

Today, the shirt used to bandage John Lennon’s fatal wounds sold at auction for $40,000. How morbid and weird is that? The shirt is stained with his blood which is apparently what garnered such a price. As the title of the linked article above quips “$40,000 can’t buy you love, but it can buy a shirt stained with John Lennon’s blood.”

If that’s something you want.