’’ one post advised—Oberst has mastered the New York art of hiding in plain sight, no teary fans camped out on the lawn.
Oberst still keeps the twenties-era bungalow he bought a few years ago in Omaha, on a leafy old street near his parents and next door to his former childhood sweetheart, Neely Jenkins, the singer for Tilly.
Fans from here to Tokyo idolize the sensitive, big-eyed boy through Websites, poetry, art projects, stalkathons, and proclamations shrieked during quieter concert moments (“I love you, Conor!
”), and though he could have transplanted his hip nerdiness just about anywhere, Oberst stuck to the heartland. It was an unlikely decision for a songwriter who is widely considered the creative cornerstone of Omaha’s burgeoning independent-music scene, an artist so concerned with commercial purity that he refused to play Clear Channel venues on his upcoming tour.
In fact, his prodigious lyrics were so tied to a certain bleak emotional landscape—which often mirrored the physical one outside his parents’ window—it seemed certain he would never leave Nebraska. Conor Oberst moving to New York is like Faulkner leaving Oxford for Atlanta.
The band will make their network television debut tonight on this weekend.
1 singles slot (a historic ratings achievement for an indie rocker), follows a drugged-out couple on a freezing New York night as they fail to hail a taxi to ‘’a party at some actor’s West Side loft,’’ the girl ‘’looking skinny like a model with your eyes all painted black”; finally they share a flask on the subway and try to stay conscious. “Train Under Water” works a folk-rock twist on one of the city’s age-old perks—thrilling impersonality and the constant prospect of urban serendipity: “I was a postcard, I was a record, I was a camera, until I went blind / Now I’m riding all over this island / Looking for something to open my eyes.” Oberst has toured the globe, but you won’t find meaningful allusions to, say, Munich or Amsterdam, or L. A place has to become personal to him to show up in his music.
“Conor lives in his own world,” says Emmylou Harris, who sings on three tracks of I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning.
Conor Oberst (born February 15, 1980) is an American singer-songwriter best known for his work in Bright Eyes.
He has also played in several other bands, including Desaparecidos, The Faint (previously named Norman Bailer), Commander Venus, Park Ave., Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band, and Monsters of Folk.