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Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst

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So who is this “voice of his generation”? This “next Dylan”? This “Indie heart-throb”? This Conor Oberst?

OK, so the first time I really started paying much attention to Conor Oberst/Bright Eyes’ was last fall when he was out on the Vote For Change tour.

Last month, I caught Bright Eyes on Austin City Limits with Wilco and was intrigued enough to dig a little deeper.

So I learned the standard biography background stuff like Conor Oberst refuses to record for major labels, shuns corporate radio and won’t play venues owned by Clear Channel Communications. OK, so cool.

And he’s got a couple of new CDs out — I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning and Digital Ash in a Digital Urn.

Then I heard the NPR Live Web-Cast of the Bright Eyes concert at Washington, D.C.’s 9:30 Club. One song in particular struck me which sounded like the ranting of an angry – yet wise – young man. A song written specifically for our hometown’s most famous resident.

So who is this “voice of his generation” who’s been writing and recording introspective tunes since he was 14?

As Caryn writes on Jukebox Graduate the “obligatory bright eyes posting” of the new Conor Oberst song “When The President Talks To God” lyrics:

“It’s a great, biting, eloquent talking blues, in the spirit of Woody and Arlo and Steve Earle. Writing a song like this is tough to do, it’s not just the lyrics that are important, it’s the tune and the performance and the delivery, and it’s freaking masterful.”

And the indie press has been all over him and bloggers are ga-ga.
Rather than the usual Bob Dylan comparison, recently we got a comparison to Eminem in Technician Online?! Grayson Currin writes on Conor Oberst, the “precocious poet laureate of the indie world”:

“Eminem is restating both his popularity and his ability to hold a large part of the American youth in rapture, hanging on his every flip and slam. Marshall Mathers — a 32-year-old rapper from Detroit — commands an obedient, trusting audience, and he knows it.

And, as strange as it may sound, Conor Oberst — a 24-year-old singer/songwriter from Omaha — isn’t that different. Oberst, who has recorded with a revolving cast of band members under the name Bright Eyes since 1998, commands an equally attentive if smaller audience. Both writers are fully aware of their character flaws and prodigious talents, and both of them bleed through in striking four-minute poses. Mathers and Oberst are separate, incomparable beasts, of course, but — when it comes to finding an audience and making it shut up and listen — they are ironically equivalent masters. “

At last month’s concert in Toronto, Frank on chromewaves.net writes:

“But that’s not the curious thing about the show. I went down onto the floor between the main set and the encore to retrieve my camera from the coat check, and some of the audience down there were behaving like they’d just witnessed the rapture (the Biblical event, not the band). There was one girl I saw crying through the whole encore, and others who looked on the verge of tears or ecstasy. It was as if they were experiencing a completely different show than me – they were taking it in on another level entirely… It’s sort of hard to explain, but it was strange. I felt like a tourist.”

As Joel Caris writes on a Blocritics review:

“Conor Oberst is one hell of a musician and it’s kind of ridiculous that he has managed to release two albums simulataneously that are of such high quality. This guy can sing and write, period. The lyrics are amazing on both albums, though they really shine on I’m Wide Awake.”

Not enough Conor yet? Here’s a recent NPR chat with Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes.

More Bright Eyes photos from Austin City Limits.


About Thrasher

  • Kayleigh

    Conor is an amazing musician and songwriter.

    Is there need for fighting over his looks and/or if he’s emo?

    he’s voice is captivating and for everyone who thinks otherwise, well think otherwise but know you’re missing out on something great.

  • MIKE

    Bright Eyes is probably the best band recording music right now. I’m not comparing him to past bands, but currently he is the best. He deserves credit for being so popular without going to major labels and radios at all and for being so successful for so long. I think most people here are new fans, and young fans, but he has been around a while unlike all other popular musicians today who will be gone tomorrow. Bright Eyes has been around and is not going anywhere. He is only 24. Also take note of his audience. Lots of young people it seems on here but compared to most popular musicians today that rely on high school kids to be successful for a few years. Connor has a large number of older fans. (25 – 35) He has begun to appeal to a huge audience, not just young emo kids. His music is becoming much more mature than it was, not that I don’t like his older music. There are also alot of unknown bands out there that compare to him, just without the following. Look at the musicians he supports if you like his and you’ll find some great music.

  • Mary Helen

    After stumbling on you and your lyrics, I am overwhelmed by your raw passion and inner-sole words. You have helped me in more was than you know or want to know. You make me feel peaceful and content. If you are not completely turned off or annoyed by my words, I would love nothing more than to have contact with you.
    I’m sure you have your ways
    Southern Girl in Transition

  • Jeff Korshal

    i would turn gay for him.

  • victoria

    Coming from a 13 i believe his music is amazing and there is no need to compare to bob dylan connors hes a different person, with different music but in all his music is beautiful and his lyrics have a meaning

  • http://www.myspace.com/chelyan Tim

    Conor Oberst is a great musician. But he is not God, I get the feeling people love what he has to say Because they love the idea of him. Every girl wants to be with him and every guy wants to be him. Don’t ever become infatuated with an image you have created through perception. There is more to conor oberst than the fans will ever know, and that’s fine. He is just a human, we are ALL capable of artistic creation like that. Connor oberst does it in a time of Rap and Horrible Music like Nickleback etc, Just like Nirvana stood out in a time of boring early 90′s R&B. I hope Connor succeeds in making DEEP MEANING IN SONGS mainstream. I wish when I turned on the radio I could hear a song covering something besides fucking a bitch or being a slut. We love him for all the songs and deep lyrics he has shed to the world, but don’t try to imitate someone- you will forget who you are. And all the people claiming to be emo, and bright eyes being emo. Please don’t ever use that word again- Connor’s music is way behind the word emo. Use poetic, truthful, folk, etc.

  • http://www.myspace.com/johnanglin Rabbid rabbit

    Kurt Cobain!. enough said.

  • http://www.myspace.com/johnanglin Rabbid rabbit

    oh and one more thing. to the person that said “Just like Nirvana stood out in a time of boring early 90′s R&B.” it was WAY MORE than just R&B. Kurt cobain and nirvana destroyed bands like guns N roses AND metallica. so dont sit there and say they were big cause of crap like R&B. cause ur wrong. after nirvana hit the scene. they were the only band people really paid attention to. it wasnt just kurts death that made him popular. he was already popular