Crutchfield: That’s pretty much exactly how I do it. It takes me so long to write lyrics, so I collect all of these vocal melodies and just sort of have them in my back pocket. When I finally sit down to write words, it’s like the most painful and torturous process, and it takes so long.
Oberst: Not to butter your bread, but your melodies are always so incredible. And then to have that with the amazing lyrics and your voice is insane. Total package over there. I feel like the lyric writing is the easiest thing for me. Do you ever write something that you’re stoked about, and then you realize that it’s already a song?
On “Calais to Dover,” the penultimate track on Down in the Weeds, Where the World Once Was, Conor Oberst and company erupt into a huge, catchy, and devastating chorus, one that has all the trademarks of vintage Bright Eyes. There’s Oberst’s famously clever wordplay, where he examines his paralysis (“nothing is changing”) amidst a divorce (“everything’s changing”) while subtly playing with the expression “to state the obvious,” which, in its final declaration, closes the song like a gut-punch. Then there’s Oberst’s distinctively tremulous, emotive voice and the frantic energy that carries it; here Oberst’s trembling words pour out of him and, by the end of the song, he abandons words altogether and expresses his grief through a primal wail. And then there’s the glorious instrumentation, where a rush of pianos and shimmering guitars make the song feel massive—as they swell, it’s hard not to be swept up by the grandeur of the music and then, as Oberst’s clear vocals come into focus, be crushed by his sadness. The song encapsulates so much of the appeal of Bright Eyes: there’s often a simultaneous joy and pain in listening, as the group pulls you into their rich sonic world and then leaves you vulnerable to Oberst’s poignant lyrics. For these reasons, “Calais” is the standout to Weeds and one of the best Bright Eyes songs of the past 15 years. It’s also the album’s sole takeaway.Read More “Bright Eyes – Down in the Weeds, Where the World Once Was”