I’m surprised it took me this long to purchase I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning by Bright Eyes, much less let it be the first album I purchased this year. I have a few songs from the album isolated in my library but whenever I went to go buy it, I always found something else. Something I recognized better or was just more in the mode for.
So why spend the twenty dollars on an eleven year old album? Well it was just the right time.
Just like the two previous Bright Eyes albums, this one opens up with a spoken intro as lead singer Conor “I’m perpetually in my early 20s” Oberst tells listeners the story of a woman on a plane that crashing into the ocean before going into At The Bottom Of Everything.
The opening song completely tells you what the story is gives you glimpses of some of the political ideas he follows, referring to “nine numbers and deny we have a soul” as how Social Security assigns every one their own number. Hell in alive version of this song he call George W. Bush a fascist and that M. Ward should be President.
Meanwhile Old Soul Song takes about visiting a protest and watching as the people overrun the police. There’s a fight, glass is broken, and Oberst and his companion leaves with the whole thing on camera. Even over a decade old this slow protest song still holds its own.
Of course it’s not all social commentary, the album goes through a large range of emotions including sadness and fear
of falling out of love in Lua. How people who seem to be so madly in love can simply lose interest and be gone by the next morning.
While the A-side leaves you feeling the doom and gloom the flipping of the record acts as a mental reset as you begin the B-side with Bright Eyes most famous song, First Day of My Life, a simple touching ballad of devotion. Its a song that makes you fell so warm inside that you just smile.
In fact the whole B-side is magnificent, almost perfect. I say almost because I feel the album would have benefitted if Lua switched with Landlocked Blues on the track list. Blues is a wonderful song, but it pairs better with the A-side
The real gem of this album is the last song though, Road To Joy. It’s so unexpectedly loud and brash, yelling metaphors in your face about religion, war, how technology alienates us, and the music industry. It’s a song that just doesn’t want to be heard, it demands it in a fury of pent up curled fists