Bright Eyes

“To me, Conor Oberst resembles Patti Smith a great deal,” R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe told me in an interview back in 2008. “As a performer, as a magnet. He’s just got that thing that she’s got.” The “thing” Stipe refers to has both captivated legions of followers of Oberst’s band Bright Eyes, and alienated nearly equal numbers of cynical detractors.

But what is that “thing”? It’s a certain rage articulated with wide-eyed vulnerability, a generosity of spirit, a steadfast commitment to move forward artistically without the fear of failure or censure. Whatever side of the fence you may fall on, it’s hard to deny that Oberst has indeed cultivated a sound for himself through the years with Bright Eyes. The band has essentially been Oberst from the outset, although in 2006 he anointed trumpet/piano player Nate Walcott and multi-instrumentalist/producer Mike Mogis as permanent members.

Beginning with a set of home recordings culled on 1997′s A Collection Of Songs Written And Recorded 1995-1997 on through 1998′s Letting Off The Happiness, Oberst favored fractured folk numbers, seemingly endless verses in which the vocals wrapped around the spindly melodies tightly like a boa constrictor. Stylistically, he was then deeply indebted to his childhood musical heroes Simon Joyner and David Dondero.

He expanded the palette of his music and increased his fan base immensely on 2000′s Fevers And Mirrors, a wittily self-aware album astonishingly belying his youth (he was 19 at the time). 2002′s sprawling opus Lifted Or The Story Is In The Soil, Keep Your Ear To the Ground found Oberst continuing to broaden his audience and the confines of his sound, with the numbers evincing a baroque, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink orchestrated grandeur. It also found him lending a jaundiced eye to the toxic post-9/11 political conditions, eviscerating the U.S.’s bellicosity and hegemony.

His watershed moment took place in 2005 with the dual release of I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning and Digital Ash In A Digital Urn in 2005, two markedly dissimilar albums — the former a collection of subdued folk anthems, while the later favored taut, Pixies-like processed pop. His interest in music as a political message peaked here, no doubt galvanized by the band’s jaunt on the Vote For Change tour in the fall of 2004, when Bright Eyes opened arena shows for R.E.M. and Bruce Springsteen.

2007′s Cassadaga found the band, now established as a trio of Oberst, Mogis, and Walcott, returning in a sense to the orchestration of Lifted but in a more natural sense, eschewing the grandiosity of overdubs in favor of the sound of a band in a room. Oberst began to explore a sort of spiritual mysticism throughout the album, inspired by a visit to the town of the album’s title in Florida. Yet political invective was still interjected, particularly on the album’s first single “Four Winds.”

After Cassadaga, Oberst found himself with creative wanderlust, and indulged with a couple quasi-solo albums with the ad hoc Mystic Valley band and the long gestating Monsters Of Folk project featuring collaborations with Jim James and M. Ward alongside Bright Eyes member Mike Mogis. These projects were hit or miss, and lacked the singularity of vision that so rapturously captivated on Bright Eyes’ best work. 2011′s The People’s Key was in a sense a return to the pop formula Oberst had toyed with on Digital Ash In A Digital Urn, but the arrangements were somehow more sinewy and mechanical, echoing the Blade Runner-esque struggle for humanity at the thematic core of the album.

There have been hints dropped that The People’s Key may have been the final Bright Eyes album, at least for quite awhile. Oberst continues to fitfully struggle in 2013, reuniting the Desaparecidos, playing career-spanning solo shows. No matter what, though, Oberst will likely continue to follow his singularly idiosyncratic artistic muse, and piss a lot of people off in the process. But if everyone agrees about an artist, they’re clearly doing something horribly wrong. Long may he polarize.

Considering his vast well of a discography, this list of the 10 best Bright Eyes songs is likely to be a contentious one. Please share your favorites in the comments.

10. “The Calendar Hung Itself” (From Fevers And Mirrors, 2000)

“The Calendar Hung Itself” is a bonafide Oberst classic, articulating one of the key motifs he would hone over the course of his career: an obsession with death on par with Woody Allen’s infamous neurosis. This, juxtaposed with the notion that time is largely indifferent to one’s struggles, whether frivolous or universal, lent Oberst’s work a disarming eloquence. And when he rails in a rapid-fire Jeff Mangum-esque spurt, “Well the clock’s heart it hangs inside its open chest/ With hands stretched towards the calendar hanging itself,” the sheer conviction of his words render the track downright beguiling, with Oberst’s bleating-calf vocals resonating like a heretic sermonizing in tongues.

9. “Four Winds” (From Cassadaga, 2007)

Cassadaga is perhaps the most uneven Bright Eyes album, but it isn’t without its highlights. “Four Winds” is an absolutely scorching number replete with dirty fiddle and bleeding Hammond organ redolent of Dylan’s Blood On The Tracks. Oberst namechecks Joan Didion’s Slouching Towards Bethlehem while invoking post-apocalyptic imagery of a moribund planet dangling by a precarious thread, ready to combust once the short fuse of religion burns and detonates. He finds redemption in Cassadaga, the Florida town he journeys to so he can “commune with the dead,” while urging frenetically that “you’d better look alive.” Oberst has claimed that he came into Cassadaga without an agenda, only wishing to write songs about what was on his mind at any given time. More often than not this was dystopian apocalyptic dread.

8. “A Perfect Sonnet” (From Every Day And Every Night EP, 1999)

“A Perfect Sonnet” is guided by a principle not dissimilar to the red thread of fate, an East Asian belief that two individuals connected by this thread are ineluctably destined to become lovers. A prime example of why Oberst simultaneously captivates and alienates, this rough-hewn number exhibits the singer at his most histrionic, as he wails in his bleating caterwaul, “I believe that lovers should be tied together/ Thrown into a fire with their songs and letters/ Left there to burn in their arrogance” over a hyper-adrenalized fractured melody that shares more than a passing resemblance to Soul Asylum’s “Runaway Train.” The song denoues with Oberst urging, “I believe that lovers should be draped in flowers/ Laid entwined on a bed of clover/ Left there to sleep/ Left there to dream of their happiness.” Yes, he was green at the time, but the sheer conviction and bile with which he delivered such quixotically romantic lyrics flirted with genius.

7. “Ladder Song” (From The People’s Key, 2011)

On the sci-fi-inflected The People’s Key, which is largely bloated with slick production, Oberst wrote and performed the scarred ballad “Ladder Song” with a vintage keyboard on which he composed many of Bright Eyes’ earliest works. The song is an elegy to wasted youth, a paean to a friend who committed suicide. The incorporeal is summoned as Oberst drifts into fantasy while incanting, “Fall asleep reading science fiction/ I wanna hang in your silver ship/ Let Jesus hang and Buddha sit,” before the fever-dream imagery of “Got to get to the concert/ Run off with a dancer/ Gonna celebrate” bleeds into brutal fatalistic imagery of “Welcome to the new age/ Dressed up in warrior paint.” As the song’s minor keys softly fade away, Oberst confesses, “You’re not alone in anything/You’re not alone in trying to be,” as his grief dissolves into dignified resignation.

6. “Trees Get Wheeled Away” (From Noise Floor [Rarities 1998-2005], 2006)

An acoustic number with tasteful mandolin coruscations, “Trees Get Wheeled Away” was originally a more aggressive, guitar-driven rocker that the band played nearly nightly throughout the Lifted tour. It never received a proper album release, initially appearing on the Lost Highway: Lost And Found Vol. 1 compilation in 2003, and was later culled for the Bright Eyes compilation Noise Floor (Rarities 1998-2005). It was, significantly, the first song the band played on live television, on Late Night With David Letterman in May of 2003, as Oberst chose to forego more obvious Lifted hits in its favor. Unlike many of the songs on Lifted, it eschews overt proselytizing, and finds a place in the intimately personal headspace of a human being struggling to make sense of early ’00s wartime culture, illustrated as Oberst quavers, “We’ve got no health insurance, no cellular service, no disease that they can cure, but we need more money to burn so each person can learn the dollar amount they are worth.” It finds him continuing to explore the slippery dynamic of what a performer’s role is, as on Lifted’s “Method Acting,” exhibited at the song’s coda as he laments, “At the end of the play, the audience walks away. And I’ll be shivering cold on a well lit stage,” audibly despondent at the ephemerality of his message.

5. “First Day Of My Life” (From I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning, 2005)

On a politically charged, angst-filled album, the centerpiece is perhaps Oberst’s most emotionally direct song to date. “First Day Of My Life” is a plaintive, austere number that swaps in the simplistic language of the redemptive power of love and reconnection. As he confides in a lover, “And you said this is the first day of my life/ I’m glad I didn’t die before I met you,” the track culminates with the disarming confession, “I’d rather be working for a paycheck than waiting to win the lottery.” It’s this simple, nursery-rhyme structure and language that renders “First Day Of My Life”so universally affecting.

4. “Something Vague” (From Fevers And Mirrors, 2000)

Sigmund Freud posited that the retelling of dreams to a therapist was complicated by secondary and tertiary revisions, the former being the details too painful for an individual to deal with at a conscious level, the latter being the details the subject recalled but was too ashamed of to reveal. In “Something Vague,” Oberst describes a recurring dream in vivid detail sans filter, as if we’ve been given a direct line to his cerebral cortex. He recalls “Standing on a bridge in the town where I lived as a kid with my mom and my brothers/ And then the bridge disappears and I’m standing air/ With nothing holding me/ and I hang like a star/ Fucking glow in the dark/ For all the starving eyes to see.” Oberst questions the significance of his dream, and concludes that, “it’s more like a ghost, something following us both/ something more like a feeling,” feeding into the death-as-escape metaphor so prevalent throughout Fevers And Mirrors.

3. “Landlocked Blues” (From I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning, 2005)

Of the “songs during wartime” phase of Oberst’s songwriting career, “Landlocked Blues” is perhaps the most successful at fusing the political with the harrowingly personal. First appearing in a more austere form on the 2003 Saddle Creek 50 compilation, this version pulls out all the bells and whistles, including backing vocals from Emmylou Harris, and a trumpet solo from Nate Walcott that slyly references “Taps.” After describing a lovemaking session “On the living room floor/ With the noise in the background from the televised war,” Oberst croaks, “If you walk away I’ll walk away/ Just tell me which road you will take,” unsure of whether to be a optimistic or viciously cynical. He eventually opts for the latter, fulminating, “And the whole world must watch the sad comic display/ If you’re still free start running away/ ’Cause we’re coming for you.”

2. “Let’s Not Shit Ourselves (To Love And To Be Loved)” (From Lifted Or The Story Is In The Soil, Keep Your Ear To The Ground)

A roistering countrified hoedown that acts as both a grand catharsis and a condemnation of the Bush/Cheney White House, the song is perhaps Oberst’s most overtly political under the Bright Eyes moniker (the Desaparecidos are an entirely different beast). As he excoriates the “Cowboy president,” and nearly hyperventilates calling out “ABC, NBC, CBS bullshit!,” his vitriol is off the charts. Yet the overriding message of Lifted is preserved in the song’s final line, when Oberst abjectly confesses, “How grateful I was to be part of the mystery/ To love and to be loved/ Let’s hope that it’s enough.” And he sings the passage with so much fervent conviction that you want to believe him.

1. “Lua” (From I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning, 2005)

A beautifully ascetic ballad, “Lua” is perhaps the quintessential Bright Eyes song. It finds Oberst desperately longing for connection, no matter how self-destructive — and he finds cold comfort in the vices of drugs, alcohol, and a one-night stand. But it’s much more than a debaucherous, living-fast-and-loose rock and roll number extolling the virtues of booze, drugs, and sex. It’s expository when it could’ve been exploitative, as Oberst empathizes with the damaged psyche of his female companion, crooning, “And I know you have a heavy heart/ I can feel it when we kiss.” He eventually grows disenchanted with the emptiness of his lifestyle, confessing, “The mask I polish in the evening, by the morning looks like shit” echoing the contrite day-after gazing into the black mirror of the Velvet Underground’s “All Tomorrow’s Parties.” Despite this, Oberst is unable to come to any sort of resolution, suffused with ambivalence as he confesses, “It’s not something that I recommend/ But it is one way to live,” suggesting that the cycle will begin all over again.

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Listen to this playlist on Spotify.

Comments (137)
  1. we are nowhere and it’s now?

    • A list completely full of I’m Wide Awake ballads would’ve been kinda boring, so I don’t fault em for it, but yeah it must have been painful leaving anything from that album out. “Poison Oak” is my fav.

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    • And to actually respond to the content of this post, Bright Eyes’ earlier work was far better than everything from Cassadage onward. The right Fevers and Mirrors tracks are here, but it would have been nice to see something like “If Winter Ends” off Letting Off the Happiness appear. Would have preferred “Light Pollution” off Digital Ash In a Digital Urn to show up as well.

      • I second “If Winter Ends.” It was the first Bright Eyes song I heard and still one of my favorites. I really couldn’t get into anything after Digital Ash and I’m Wide Awake personally. Also, what’s up with the Pixies comparison? I don’t think I would have ever thought to compare the two. Lastly, glad to see you’re back. I always enjoy your commentary and hearing some of the new tracks coming out that Stereogum missed.

    • Why is it you want to return then?

  3. several selections from iwaim and “something vague” is here, so this is a pretty good list. but only “pretty good” because there aren’t more songs from lifted.

  4. I’ve tried making this list before. It’s damn near impossible to pick. It’s also interesting to make a list for a band that had very few (if any) real breakthrough hits.

    Would’ve liked to have seen something from “Digital Ash in a Digital Urn.” I’ve always liked “I Believe in Symmetry.”

    Also, I’m not sure if this is unusual but “Nothing Gets Crossed Out” might be my all-time favorite.

  5. I think Poison Oak is his best song. It might also be the most beautiful song I know.

  6. Poison Oak, Lime Tree, Southern State, and I Believe In Symmetry. But that’s just me…good list.

  7. Not to make the list top-heavy, but I kind of thought Road to Joy should be on here… then again, that almost warrants a separate “10 Best Bright Eyes Songs That Aren’t on ‘I’m Wide Awake..’” list.

  8. Good list, I appreciate that you went for some of the non-LP tracks. Most of these would make my top 10, though not in this order.

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  10. 15 year-old me is happy that “Let’s not shit ourselves” is on here. I’m sure 15 year-old me is also pissed that both “bowl of oranges” and “lover I don’t have to love” aren’t on here.

  11. Bright Eyes was my gateway artist in high school. Ten years later, I can still tell you that my friend handed me a mix CD with the following songs: Lover I Don’t Have To Love, Perfect Sonnet, Waste of Paint, Calendar Hung Itself, Bowl of Oranges, and Sunrise, Sunset.

  12. Pretty decent list, my top ten:

    1. Let’s Not Shit Ourselves
    2. A Scale A Mirror and These Indifferent Clocks
    3. An Attempt to Tip the Scales
    4. A Perfect Sonnet
    5. Cartoon Blues
    6. At the Bottom of Everything
    7. Easy/Lucky/Free
    8. Middleman
    9. Bowl of Oranges
    10. First Day of My Life

    bonus (Conor Oberst solo)
    1. Cape Canaveral
    2. Milk Thistle

  13. I’m curious as to other people’s thoughts on The People’s Key. Personally, it’s one of my favorite Bright Eyes albums. It probably is the most produced of any of them, but not by that much compared to Cassadaga or even Wide Awake. Ladder Song is definitely the best song, and I don’t even necessarily feel more songs from it should be on this list (stuffed with classics, to be sure) but songs like Shell Games, Beginner’s Mind, and the last track surely keep it from being so easily dismissed as simply “bloated.” Or am I shitting myself, so to speak?

    Also, great call with Trees Get Rolled Away. What a song.

    • I love The People’s Key, and hate how Pitchfork (and by association, most hipsters) threw it under the bus. One of the best albums of 2011, and one of the few albums I own that’s a front-to-back listen. Not even going to bother naming the best songs from it because they’re all amazing (but ok, Shell Games is the best and should be on this list). Also great are the B-sides, especially Singularity.

      As for Stereogum’s list, it’s alright I guess. As some people have said, it’s hard to pick just 10 great songs from Oberst’s discography. The one song that I feel should definitely be on there is Easy/Lucky/Free. Flippin’ masterpiece.

      • Took the fireworks (Letting Off the Happiness cover)
        and the vanity (Fevers and Mirrors)
        the circut board (1′s and 0′s of Digital Ash)
        and the city street (I’m Wide Awake)
        shooting star (Cassadaga)
        swaying palm tree (Cassadaga and/or self titled)
        and laid it at the arbiter’s feet. (whoever is listening or judging his music)

    • I really like TPK, personally. Off the top of my head my main criticisms would be a.) the old dude’s monologue is straight up dumb and much too frequent and b.) One for You, One for Me is like a less good version of Easy/Lucky/Free… I hope whatever the final BE album is goes out on a better note than that.

      “Southern State” is my fav sorta-obscure BE song.

    • People’s Key deserves more love! Way more solid than people give it credit for.

    • Triple Spiral and Haile Sesassie were standouts to me. Love that album

    • TPK got a raw deal on this site and others when it came out. I think it was the unexpected production, with the new-wavy keyboards.

      But I’m with you on this. “Ladder Song” and “One For You, One For Me” are two of my favorite BE songs.

  14. This is hard to argue with, obviously mine would be different but there’s nothing that I would say shouldn’t be on this and the top 3 is pretty much spot on in my opinion.

    I really can’t state enough how important Bright Eyes has been to me as a person and as a music fan. This music has got me through (and continues to get me through) some tough times; I listened to Bright Eyes pretty much constantly from the ages of 15 through 18, and Oberst’s lyrics will always be a source of inspiration for me. I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning is in the top 5 or so albums ever made in my opinion, one of the most beautiful collections of songs ever recorded, both melancholic and angry in a way that little else has managed to balance so well.

    “I got no plans and too much time
    I feel too restless to unwind
    I’m always lost in thought
    As I walk a block to my favourite neon sign
    Where the waitress looks concerned
    But she never says a word
    Just turns the jukebox on
    And we hum along
    And I smile back at her”

    • I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning was something I listened to religiously during high school, and a couple other low points in my life. My oldest sister, who was kind of my gateway to alternative music, gave me this album when I was about 16 along with “Moon and Antarctica”, “Funeral”, and “Cripple Crow”. It took me a little while to really listen to them, because I was in kind of a weird music phase at that time. I had just started playing guitar, so I would listen to awkward CD mixes with songs like Purple Haze, followed by Back in Black, then Layla, then Stairw….. You get the point.

      Finally though, I ended up listening to it. It was weird to me at first. I wasn’t used to this kind of music. “Why is his voice like that?” “I wish there were more guitar solos.” I knew the people I hung out with at school, would just think it was stupid if I showed it to them.

      Eventually though, it clicked. I started to listen to more than just the guitar in songs, and started getting the full picture. I realized that it wasn’t always about rocking the fuck out of people, sometimes you gotta just have something to say. A song with amazing lyrics and just an acoustic guitar being played really gently can be more powerful than anything else.

      High school wasn’t easy for me. I didn’t really have any friends whom I hung out with until my senior year. I was probably mildly depressed the entire time. Music was always there for me though. Albums like this really helped me through tough times. Knowing that someone else knew how I was feeling really helped me connect with the artist, and I made me feel like I wasn’t alone.

      I finally was able to see Bright Eyes live in 2011, and it was one of the best experiences I’ve had when it comes to music. All those memories came back when he played songs from that album, but it was in a much happier light because it brought back those memories and all that nostalgia in a way you can’t really explain. Singing all those songs along with Conor, really seemed to bring things full circle. He also jumped off the stage and made out with a girl in the front row and security were trying to pull them apart. Then he broke free and jumped into the mosh pit to finish the show. So, that was cool.

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  16. Poison Oak has to be on here. I think that’s clear. You will, you will and take is easy ( the antithesis of first day of my life) are other notables for me. Pretty good list though. Fair

  17. Lover I Don’t Have to Love and Bowl of Oranges were the two that first popped into my head (other than Something Vague). Neither of those are here though :(

  18. Messenger Bird has got to be in the top 3 IMO.

  19. Everyone’s mentioning “Lover I Don’t Have to Love,” and while that is a great song that probably should be on here, WHERE is the love for “Haligh, Haligh, a Lie, Haligh”?? That is, IMO, the archetypal Bright Eyes song as well as the epitome of emotional, acoustic songwriting. I’m 26 and far removed from my days dying my hair black, but I still love that song and cover it on guitar all the time.

  20. Bowl of Oranges or GTFO.

    • Yeah, Bowl of Oranges belongs on here, and is far better than Four Winds. I appreciate the inclusion of A Perfect Sonnet, though I would have placed it in the top 5.

  21. Haligh, Hailgh, A Lie, Hailgh?

  22. just having let’s not shit ourselves on this list makes it fantastic, IMHO

  23. Leans a little too heavily on “I’m Wide Awake,” would’ve loved to have seen “It’s Cool, We Can Still Be Friends.”

  24. Meh…I never was a huge fan of Bright Eyes.
    Lua and Four Winds are a decent tunes I suppose, but…

  25. “Spent on Rainy Days” still the ultimate in under appreciated Oberst tunes I guess.

  26. “Cleanse Song” from Cassadaga is a person favorite.

  27. Good list. I would have added “Goldmine Gutted” somewhere.

  28. “At The Bottom Of Everything,” where art thou?

  29. I’m really glad that the hipster backlash against Bright Eyes is subsiding and we’re not ashamed to admit this guy has written some of the best songs of the last 15 years or so.

  30. Where’s “Take it Easy (Love Nothing)?” I don’t see it even suggested in the comments so far, but it’s always going to be one of my favorites, along with “Landlocked Blues,” “Lua,” and “Easy/Lucky/Free.” At least this list has 2 of those—making a Best of Bright Eyes list is crazy hard, I’ve tried before. There’s no way I could narrow it down to 10.

  31. I love CASSADAGA and I think “Lime Tree” is a perfect song. It’s a gorgeous and spare, with impeccably-arranged strings; mostly, though, Oberst’s voice makes it great. He sounds more present than ever, and it gives me chills.

  32. I almost complained about how low first day of my life is and then i saw lua at #1, Ya done good ya done good. I will argue that all of lifted deserves to be on a list of some sort.

    this is all decent except for the people’s key, I just didn’t really get into that album, I downloaded it and started and nothing ever really happened for me, Idk.

  33. The line in Four Winds about slouching towards Bethlehem is a reference to The Second Coming by Yeats, which is also post-apocalyptic.

    • I was going to say the same thing.
      Other than that, hard to argue with this. I’d personally put numbers 3 and 2 at the top, but “Lua” is great too.

  34. I always loved “Hot Knives” too. That song gets me amped. The first four tracks of Cassadaga are so good. I like the rest of the album too, but it starts like a classic.

  35. 1. When the curious girl
    2. Lua
    3. Arienette
    4. Loose Leaves
    5. Laura Laurent
    6. Land Locked Blues
    7. Haligh haligh
    8. The Calendar
    9. Something Vague
    10. At the Bottom of Everything

    When the Curious Girl is so far above everything in my opinion, and I don’t know why and can’t rationalize it, but I just love it and always have.

  36. There hasn’t been a lot of love for “Old Soul Song” so I’m gonna throw that down as my third favorite Bright Eyes track behind “Let’s not Shit Ourselves” and “Lua.” Also I’d have liked to have seen “Light Pollution” or “Arc of Time” on the list.

  37. I love reading through these comments and seeing how varied people’s favourite songs are.

    Some bands I listen to I get bored of their stuff after a while, but that’s never been the case with Bright Eyes. I always have a favourite Bright Eyes record, and its prone to change every couple of months.

    It’s currently Lifted..
    But I think Weather Reports deserves a place on the list anyway.

  38. I’m so glad Poison Oak is getting a lot of love in here. That song never ceases to cut to my core. Also, what are people’s thoughts on Conor’s “solo album”? I thought it was absolutely brilliant. I would think songs like Cape Canaveral, Sausalito, and I Don’t Want To Die (In The Hospital) are serious contenders for top 10 spots.

  39. I always enjoyed “Reinvent the Wheel”. For anyone on here who has never seen Conor Oberst live. You need to put that on your list of things to do. In my opinion it gives you a whole different opinion of his work.

  40. It’s pretty much impossible to make a Top 10 Bright Eyes list personally. I’ve seen Bright Eyes and other Conor projects about 20 some odd times live, to give you a sense of how far down the hole I am.

    So Top 10 Bright Eyes songs not on this list, in no particular order

    1) Drunk Kid Catholic
    2) Neely O’Hara
    3) I Believe in Symmetry
    4) Cleanse Song
    5) Easy/Lucky/Free
    6) An Attempt to Tip the Scales
    7) Poison Oak
    8) June on the West Coast
    9) Make War
    10) True Blue

  41. I had mostly grown out of my folk-ish-music stage by the time I discovered Bright Eyes, but I do still really like “From a Balance Beam” and was hoping to see it on this list.

    And while I’m not surprised it didn’t make the list, “When the President Talks to God” always makes me laugh.

  42. Lua would be a better song if the delivery wasn’t so strained and over-earnest.

  43. Only one song from LIfted? Granted, it’s one of the best songs on that album, but almost the entire album is great. “Make War,” “Nothing Gets Crossed Out,” “Bowl of Oranges,” “Method Acting,” “False Advertising,” “You Will…” would all also make my top ten. Also, “Padraic My Prince,” “I Believe in Symmetry,” “Take It Easy (Love Nothing),” “Easy/Lucky/Free,” “Clairaudients (Kill or Be Killed),” “If the Brakeman Turns My Way,” pretty much all of Fevers & Mirrors, and so many other greats left off.

    I’ll probably catch flack from some Bright Eyes fans, but “I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning” just never really did it for me. Granted, it has some great songs (“Lua,” “First Day of My Life,” “Road to Joy,” “At the Bottom of Everything”), but overall I don’t think it holds a candle to Lifted or Fevers & Mirrors.

  44. These comments are hilarious…arguing over and harassing each others’ lists and personal tastes. Can’t we all just be happy to be here because we are all fans of his work?? Conor makes the best music out – pick any 10 songs of his and I’ll endorse it. Spread the love!

  45. since we can all agree that Lua is a great song, how do we feel about the version with Gillian Welch? I think I may actually like that version better.

  46. I prefer “One Foot in Front of the Other” to “Landlocked Blues.”

  47. I’m ridiculously happy that many people know what “Southern State” is, and believe that it’s one of the best Bright Eyes songs, and also the amount of love for “I Believe In Symmetry”. You all have confirmed that I am not completely crazy and alone.

  48. Lot’s of shout outs to Poison Oak… Agreed. However, no mention of Waste of Paint.

  49. I’ve always liked the other side of Conor than what most everyone else likes, Digital Ash is my favorite album. My top faves are: I Believe In Symmetry, Easy/Lucky/Free, Take It Easy (Love Nothing), Method Acting and From A Balance Beam.
    I also love Desaparecidos, so there.

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