There is no denying CONOR OBERST has created a legacy for himself. His discography is essentially bottomless, he’s released more EPs than Brandon Boyd (so far), and despite his foray into social issues and politically-driven protest songs, he still wields the ability to cave your heart in. Since Desaparecidos’ new album Payola is finally on shelves (via Epitaph), I decided to transfer the album’s massive case of nostalgia into something meaningful and salute the man behind the project(s)
that made us fragile teenagers. With that in mind, here’s a short list on the Most Underrated Conor Oberst Songs.
Bright Eyes – “A Perfect Sonnet”
This was the first Bright Eyes song I ever heard. Conor’s yelp, the melodic chaos, and the angsty, death obsessed lyrics turned me into an instant fan. Now, it makes me reminiscent of a simpler time – being 15-years-old, sitting in my family’s kitchen and making valentines for my high school friends. At the time, “A Perfect Sonnet”-themed cards seemed right, but so did copying the Ramones’ style and using a Sharpie to scribble random AFI lyrics on my white Adidas shoes.
Bright Eyes – “It’s Cool, We Can Still Be Friends”
Every single person I know has an ex-lover they cannot seem to forget. Most of these people choose to remain friends with them after the initial wounds heal and all of them are hopeful for a reconnection. This song embodies that kind of torture – the unexpected second coming of heartbreak that ensues – and Conor’s voice doesn’t hide it as it wavers towards the middle and you can’t tell if he’s actually crying. You feel bad for him but you understand; you’ve felt this way before and it sucks.
Desaparecidos – “Man And Wife, The Latter (Damaged Goods)”
Desaparecidos are really good at pointing out what is wrong in society, and bringing common, middle-class America issues to light. In this particular song, the narrator is a woman that’s decided to leave her husband due to feeling unloved and underappreciated while essentially being accused of “gold digging”. It’s a topic you don’t see often nowadays given what’s considered popular or “bloggable”, but here, it goes to show that Conor’s empathy is perhaps his greatest paintbrush.
Bright Eyes – “No Lies, Just Love” / “Kathy With A K’s Song”
Both of these songs explore the notion of loving someone from a personal point of view and they go on to prove Conor’s poetic expressions and romantic ideas are undervalued. With lyrics so simple, they exemplify a time where Bright Eyes was somewhat minimalistic and easy to relate to – aka 2001 and Don’t Be Frightened Of Turning The Page. If only all of his music was like this.
Conor Oberst & The Mystic Valley Band – “Synesthete Song”
Sometimes, while going through a rough patch the only way to make yourself feel better is through self-medication. Regardless of what your preference is, “Synesthete Song” is definitely a reflection of darker times and the melody matches it perfectly – creating a subtle ambiance that acts as a method of healing.
Conor Oberst – “Common Knowledge”
I have an ex who comes to mind every time I listen to this song. Unfortunately, like the protagonist in “Common Knowledge”, he struggles with sobriety and tends to become a shittier version of himself when he drinks. Conor has always been very good about turning his demons and troubles into something beautiful that others can identify with and this one’s a throwback to his earlier Bright Eyes days. It puts you in someone else’s shoes and quickly makes you apathetic for your own well being.