Conor Oberst – A Little Uncanny

My mind is absolutely blown by the understated genius of this guy. It’s like Al Stewart, Cat Stevens and Bob Dylan had a lyrical lovechild. I think I had only ever heard one other song by him, but since hearing this yesterday, I have tapped his YouTube playlist like a Vermont Maple tree, sucking the marrow out of these songs. They’re simple and complex at the same time–not an easy thing to pull off. And listening to this song, you can tell he’s a reader, not only because of the literary references in the song, but because you get that sense from great writers too. The ones who write like a still topped lake with a fast rushing stream feeding into it somewhere off screen. This is how his writing feels. There’s a pulse in the veins with this one and it gets the atrioventricular valves pumping fresh, intelligent blood to the brain.

This song just came out on the adult alternative channel on Music Choice and I think it’s a good one to start with if you’re not familiar with him. It has a rockabilly vibe with that pronounced Dylan-ish harmonica kickstarting the methodical forward motion of the drum and beat-centric soul of the song. The lyrics are great. He’s talking about how things that aren’t considered great in their own time necessarily, still took a great deal of effort to achieve. It’s a way to tell you to keep chugging away at the old dream.

But don’t stop at this song. Keep listening. You just can’t imagine that they can get better, but they do. This is indicative of a true artist with a very deep well to pull from.

(I also dig that there is this backdrop of 90s video footage of Conor growing up. You get a chance to see the genius in the making.)

This is a great song to listen to while you’re trying to put together the pieces of your life in an artistic way.

Lyrics:

We started drinking the Kool-Aid
We were taking the bait
We were talking the big talk
Never playing it safe
Looking good as Jane Fonda
On a Vietnam tank
Can’t get something for nothing
Have to energize your base

But she was young enough
She was blonde enough
She was ’bout a perfect ten
Had millions of admirers but not a single friend
And it’s a, it’s a little uncanny what she managed to do
Become a symbol for a pain she never knew

You know old Ronnie Reagan
He was a shoe salesman’s son
He got himself in the movies
He impressed everyone
He thought trial by fire
Was America’s fate
He made a joke of the poor people
And that made him a saint

But he was tan enough, he was rich enough
He was handsome like John Wayne
And there was no one at the country club
Who didn’t feel the same

But it’s a, it’s a little uncanny
What he managed to do
Got me to read those Russian authors through and through

I miss Christopher Hitchens
I miss Oliver Sacks
I miss poor Robin Williams
I miss Sylvia Plath
Every morning’s a desert
Every night is a flood
They say a party can kill you
Well sometimes I wish it would

But I’ll get strong enough, I’ll be man enough
To keep myself in check
‘Cause all my friends that flew to town
Said that’s what they expect

But it’s a, it’s a little uncanny
What they managed to do
Made me admit to things I knew were never true

Lyrics by Conor Oberst

Video directed by Josh Rawson
Director of Photography-Frankie Turiano
Produced by Alex Knapp and Katrina Bayoneto

Album: Salutations