The Complexities And Revelations Midst Conor Oberst’s Fringe
So she’s sat on the edge of the bed, and what she’s sayin is “See, it’s not that you’re crap or nothin, cause really, I’ve had worse in my time, fairly sure, s’just that it might make things a bit more interesting.”
And I’m noddin, cause it does get a bit repetitive, the old in-out-up-off-asleep routine. I’m sayin about it’s ok, I understand why you’d maybe want me to dress up like a priest or maybe a man who arrived five minutes late for the bus and ends up walkin round mutterin to himself about how he’ll fuck the eyes of every watchmaker in Holland fore he’ll trust a clock again.
She smiles the kinda smile reeks a lust for Bruce Campbell, and so The Duke wanderin round the bedroom looking for something might elongate the jaw a tad, least for the three minutes the procedure takes to perform.
Getting the chainsaw out the cupboard, flinging some bloodied towels round one fist, one eyebrow tied to the ear wi a length a string just a touch too short.
And everything goin so well till the tables turn and the lady wants to know why you’re combing her hair all down over one side of her face.
I can’t see, she’s saying, the hell is this mania you’re indulging, anyhow?
I don’t want this acoustic guitar, I can’t play a damn note.
The fuck is this business, last time I saw a four-track in the bedroom I ended up getting excommunicated.
Turns out the last thing a lady wants to hear is a fella whisperin in the ear along the lines of “Oh Conor” or “Conor you randy shit” or “Hell’s fire, Conor, this is some science-defying filth right here.”
Turns out it’s the last thing a fella expects to happen, also.
And sat in the wake of it all, “Take It Easy (Love Nothing)” by Bright Eyes on the stereo, Conor Oberst, he’s saying all about;
“So I sat down wrapped myself up in the sheets,
And I must have looked like a ghost cause something frightened me
And since then I’ve been so good at vanishing”
And a wound on the pillow where the lady’s sleepin head should be resting, damn all for it but to draw up some graphs, pie-charts, statistical analysis concerning this whole Bright Eyes obsession, this whole hoopla stemming from the eye peekin through the fringe in the right light.
What I’m seeing is some sort of mathematical conundrum, a whole buncha conflicting conclusions, Lust X Envy to the power of Admiration.
Matters needing addressed, occurrences needing context an explanation, for the love of all that’s holy.
Because this is all the proof that’s needed. I can’t ignore it no longer. A fella is undoubtedly harboring romantic filth-related notions concerning Conor Oberst. A fairly disconcerting development, given the heterosexuality an all.
No, ain’t no sense denying it for a second, like when, a while back, I got to discussing Letting Off The Happiness, the second Bright Eyes record, with a lady-friend who keeps me awake till dawn wi the thought of touchin her hand. Showing her the graphs relating to the Envy, she’s suddenly looking at a fella all odd, seems to be right round the time I say about “But the eyes, see, how can you stay mad with these eyes looking through yonder fringe?”
She says nothing for a time, takes the cigarette out her mouth, erupts in laughter.
“Well I’ll be damned!” she’s saying. “You wanna fuck Bright Eyes!!”
A flurry of protest, what kinda savage slander you flingin, anyhow, I’ll see you in court fore I let that train a thought get a syllable further long the track!
Still. With nothing but the PC glow shinin gainst the battered yap, with nothing but Conor screaming through the speakers about “I dragged your ghost across the country and we plotted out my death“, in times like this a man gets all sortsa experimental with regards the loins.
And the twisted ol’ fucker on the shoulder, what he whispers is “Aha, but this is far from the isolated incident you’d like us all to believe it is.”
Flashback, all soft-focus an black an white;
A teenage Duke with Kerrang! magazine lain open cross the knees, staring into the nitrogen eyes of some spectacularly beautiful vixen, the wrist feelin all sortsa adolescent, and the terror seven minutes later when the hormones subside and a fella gets to reading the text, gets to seeing peculiar names attributed to this mascara-drenched Venus.
And thinking no woman so inspiring of the filth-glands should be called Brian, absurd, it is, and the blood draining from the face (and since it can’t head south for another ten minutes, a man ends up with a horrific case of cauliflower shoulders for the duration of the evening) when the truth gets to screechin from the page. I just done cracked one off on account of a fella.
The mind scramblin for some sorta refuge, ends up in the grip a those times when, in the deepest darkest of moods, taunts got flung cross playgrounds, stood smoking behind the science labs and talk turns to “C’mon, then, sure we’ll go an ride” and laughin and then “fuck off y’poof”, all these sortsa concerns, and thinking my god, my god in heaven, what if those fellas were to see me here, now, with the tweeds at the knees and what is most certainly a male wank-fantasy still clingin to the white a the porcelain?
Hell’s bells, no time to worry about androgynous goth knuckle-fucks, no, not when the head still reels with a dream only five nights old;
The Duke wandering through a cavern, an irrational fear nibbling every limb. In the distance, a light, a light that, upon closer inspection, seems to emanate from a large cardboard box, and The Duke headed towards the box with all the nervous anticipation of a man just spotted a twenty-quid note on the ground next to a drunk policeman.
Headin towards the box, bizarre biological sensations evoked by it all, and then no, at the last minute, just as I reach for the folds, a spider the size a sixty-six council flats bounds from within, as foul an arachnid as ever was conceived of, and The Duke running, but then the sound of a song about loneliness recorded on a four-track machine, and Conor Oberst arriving on stallion.
“Keep away from him”, he says, producing a sword fit to split Europe.
Conor plunges the blade into the spider’s guts, and for good measure he torches the box too.
“You’ll never need worry about spiders or boxes ever again” says Conor, and with a flick of the fringe he’s away.
In the seconds before waking, the sound of Sigmund Freud, he’s saying “Y’know, this whole spider / box thing, it’s…”
The eyelids part and a fella hears only the commentary track he fell asleep listening to.
(Analysis of the dream by way of a chance encounter wi a psychoanalyst sat whistling side a skip reveals that it concerns something or other about unicorns.)
But woe! Woe to the foolhardy fool high on hardy who attempts for to make known all there is to know regarding the curious stirrings in the filth-gland.
Sat round a table in the bar, The Duke sippin the Red Bull, the peers an acquaintances an friends all drunk on ghastly concoctions brewed in the very balls a Lucifer, someone poses the sorta hypothetical frown-inducer only the vilest a liquor can provoke.
“So if you could make fuck wi some celebrity, absolutely no consequences, you understand, no strings attached, has no bearing on the goings on the next day, who, I ask, who the fuck would it be?”
Plenty hmmmm‘s risin an fallin from the assembled faces, plenty stroking a chins an lowerin a eyebrows.
Someone announces; “Sharon Osbourne.”
Someone else; “The woman out the extras on the Richard Prior Live And Smokin’ DVD.”
“The Northern Irish one out Girls Aloud.”
Eyes flung t’wards The Duke like ball-bearings gainst magnets the size a China.
“The fuck is this madness?”
And shruggin. “What? You said it had no bearing on the day-to-day, I’d still be hetero, the hell reason could there be for demanding anything less than Conor sat naked in the half-light a dawn?”
No reason whatsoever, but still, received wi all the warmth of a frozen shit on Christmas mornin.
And so a laugh writhin in fallacy, “Was only a joke, fuck sakes, who I’d do is Kirsty Swanson.”
And back to the graphs;
This lust, this unreserved attraction, is undoubtedly one of the reasons for The Duke’s all-encompassing love of Bright Eyes, and indeed anything Conor Oberst wraps those gorgeously quiverin vocals ’round. It raises issues needin contemplation, no doubt. A heterofilthual fella, one who, whilst finding certain men of his gender to be aesthetically pleasing, could hardly entertain the notion of any sorta poking around down there, harboring an incontestable physical attraction towards a similarly sexed male, complete with thoughts that, albeit not all the time, still, of occasion, wander south of the navel.
“So this is the reason!”, the cynics spit, all smug cross the sneer glands. “This adoration of every note the fella flings ‘pon vinyl, it all boils down to a boilin in the balls. Well I’ll be damned, what a horrifically superficial fuck you are.”
But no. For whilst the biology alone would certainly cause The Duke to be sympathetic towards the artiste in question, it would never color the critical opinion.
The critical opinion being another key factor in a fella’s obsession.
Unreserved awe greeting every new release or freshly discovered chunk a the back catalogue, but also, alongside the glee, complete, gum-defilin woe.
Cause what it is, what I’ve noticed, is that I don’t like it when a song blows me away anymore. What used to happen was the giddiness, the elation, the phoning folks at three in the AM for to say “Listen here, by God’s knuckles I’ll say it but once, Up The Bracket is the best debut record of the last ten years, if I don’t hear it blaring from every orifice next time you walk past I’ll have you sent to some lagoon colonized by gangrene!”
Now what happens is I hear it, and for months I wander round coated in dejected jaded misery. I listen to the Net Records what I’ve made, aye, songs of woe and lust and filth and madness, and I weep on account of no, what I thought was really rather pleasant, what I assumed to be worth hearing, turns out it’s not fit to wipe the shit from the hands of someone who wiped the shit from the feet of this song right here.
This song about “Going For The Gold”, maybe, from offa the Oh, Holy Fools split record with Son, Ambulance, the one where Conor yacks about that really rather bizarre trend amongst the creative types to out-do one another when it comes to the Misery.
(Recollections of a conversation with Sir Fleming, the two of us comparing obsessions, how many hours spent weeping in light of the way she wanders past with a fella the size a three Duke’s and scarcely the hint of a thought of a smile in the eyes; how many songs / poems / articles etched in any given half-hour; how much sleep evaded; how much sleep gained, on account of the dreams are built on the crest of that laugh?)
What Conor says, he says;
“They will drive to the office
Stopping somewhere for coffee,
Where the folk singers, poets and playwrights convene,
Dispensing their wisdom,
Oh dear amateur orators.
They will detail their pain
In some standard refrain.
They will recite their sadness
Like it’s some kind of contest”
And looking at the lyrics etched and hollered and saying fuck you, The Duke, nothing you say will ever come close to the commas in those lines.
But see here now.
The fact remains that the music of Bright Eyes, that the beautiful words a Conor Oberst an the sway a that delightful fringe this way an that, it all remains far too soul-alighting for to let any a these concerns get in the way.
So a man questions both his own worth an the leanings of the filth-sauce, so envy an lust an admiration keep the sleep the wrong side a Far The Fuck Away, so the hell what, who has time to worry when Digital Ash In A Digital Urn just kicked in on iTunes, a life-affirming tapestry a shimmering contradictions; distortion and clarity, naivety and world-weariness, the technology an the humanity.
So it’s “Hit The Switch”, that beautiful reflection on terrors seen and imagined, emotions gathered and discarded, friends loved an neglected. Conor, wi scarcely a hint of a clue that he’s doin it, summin up the Trials De Duke wi baffling precision;
“But then night rolls around and it all starts making sense
There is no right way or wrong way, you just have to live
And so I do what I do, and at least I exist
What could mean more than this?”
What? Not a damn thing that can’t be eased for a time wi the words an the melodies an the sigh in the soul.
“And now morning’s at my window, she is sending me to bed again.”
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