Thursday, April 21, 2011

Themes in Conor Oberst's lyrics (Part Two)

On Bright Eyes' latest album, The People's Key, Conor Oberst writes about the value of viewing life through a child's eyes. He devotes one whole song to this idea, "Beginner's Mind." He also touches on it in "Jejune Stars": "So it starts again / at our childhood's end / I'll die young at heart." He laments the loss of childhood and the fact that its perspective is gone or at least that it has to be reclaimed through a laborious process.

Inspired by a child's spontaneous take on life, he tells himself in "Beginner's Mind": "Swear you'll be the opposite / of all the stilted hypocrites / You know what made you infamous to them, don't you / you keep starting over." He wants to both understand his inner child and protect it: "Stay awhile my inner child / I'd like to learn your trick / to know what makes you tick / to nurse you when you're sick."

I agree with Conor that there is a purity of how we view the world as children. I wish we could stay children for longer ("Youth is wasted on the young"). How is it useful to regain a childlike perspective as adults? Could a wide-eyed approach be the best way to appreciate life? Or to put it another way, what do we get that is positive from becoming jaded? There is also the question of the essential self. In "One for You, One for Me," Conor writes, "We've come so far away from us." His desire to find and understand the purest part of himself is evident throughout the album.

1 comment:

  1. Fascinating stuff. As someone once said, the self has many selves. In my view, every one of those selves (e.g., the child, the self-protective skeptic, the ambitious professional) has legitimate needs and gifts. I believe that a person comes into balance when the mature, conscious self (which connects to the higher Self of the universe) listens to and loves each of of the inner selves, learning from them and allowing them to speak (as you so perceptively put it, "He wants to both understand his inner child and protect it"). One of our deepest needs is just to be heard, and the inner selves settle down (and are less likely to act out and cause problems) once we listen to them. So I guess you could say that listening to Connor Oberst can help us listen to ourselves.