The Essential Conor Oberst

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I discovered Conor Oberst after reading the lyrics to Bright Eyes' "Lua" on an ancient blogging site. Oberst's lyrics have always been fascinating to me, and as I got older they became increasingly relate-able. Making love, getting fucked, detoxing... he's pretty much covered it all.

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2007's Cassadaga stole my heart, and I have followed Conor on all of his musical pursuits since. While "Lua" and "Lover I Don't Have to Love" are obvious classics, I've put together a playlist of a few songs that take a few extra listens to grasp, but mean so much more than many of his more radio-friendly singles.

He'll be releasing his first solo album in six years on May 20 (yep, that's my birthday). It's hard for me to pick a favorite 'version' of Oberst... I fell in love with Bright Eyes but there is a certain rawness about his solo work that I have learned to love even more.

Oberst fans: what would you have put on this list?

Land Locked Blues | Bright Eyes | I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning

A good woman will pick you apart, a box full of suggestions for your possible heart.

Haligh, Haligh, A Lie, Haligh | Bright Eyes | Fevers and Mirrors

You comb your hair inside that mirror, the one you painted blue and glued with jewelry tears, something about those bright colors would always make you feel better.

Blue Angel Air Show | Bright Eyes | Noise Floor (Rarities 1998-2005)

So we've been selected, this beautiful lottery, the struggle's so long but it ended so easy.

Four Winds | Bright Eyes | Cassadaga

The Bible's blind, the Torah's deaf, the Qur'an is mute, if you burned 'em all together, you'd be close to the truth.

Get-Well-Cards | Conor Oberst | Conor Oberst

I wanna be your bootlegger, wanna mix you up something strange. Braid your hair like a sister, maim you like a hurricane.

Devil Town | Bright Eyes | Noise Floor (Rarities 1998-2005)

All my friends were vampires, I didn't know they were vampires - turns out I was a vampire myself in the Devil Town.

Jejune Stars | Bright Eyes | The People's Key

See that sunny day that we snuck out, hid under the bleachers, we kissed as the band marched, everything fell into line.

Easy/Lucky/Free | Bright Eyes | Digital Ash in a Digital Urn 

Don't be a criminal in this police state, you better shop, and eat, and procreate.

Old Soul Song (For the New World Order) | Bright Eyes | I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning

There were barricades to keep us off the street but the crowd kept pushing forward till they swallowed the police, yeah they went wild.

Milk Thistle | Conor Oberst | Conor Oberst

If I got to Heaven, I'll be bored as hell like a little baby at the bottom of a well.

Classic Cars | Bright Eyes | Cassadaga

But when conducting business, she would lie about where she's from, saying 'life is how it is - not how it was'.

A Perfect Sonnet | Bright Eyes | Every Day and Every Night

I believe that lovers should be tied together, thrown into the ocean in the worst of weather, left there to drown in their innocence.

A Poetic Retelling of an Unfortunate Seduction | Bright Eyes | Letting off the Happiness

Tasting the skin of a foreign girl, her eyes are black and wet like oil.

Big Black Nothing | Conor Oberst & The Mystic Valley Band | Outer South

Would you be my, would you still be my friend if I told you it's all just pretend?

One For You, One For Me | Bright Eyes | The People's Key

One for the breadlines, one for the billionaires - one for the missing, one for the barely there.

I Will Be Grateful for This Day | Bright Eyes | Noise Floor (Rarities 1998-2005)

I had a friend who changed his name but couldn't change himself, never quite figured out how to dealt with what life had dealt.

Nothing Gets Crossed Out | Bright Eyes | LIFTED Or The Story is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground

Like when I fell under the weight of a schoolboy crush, started carrying her books and doing lots of drugs.

Black Comedy | Conor Oberst & Neva Dinova | One Jug of Wine, Two Vessels

The saddest sound we ever heard, we sang along.

Clairaudients (Kill Or Be Killed) | Bright Eyes | Cassadaga

Like the polar icecaps centrifuge, first snowman built at the end of June, he slicks his hair for the interview, his fifteen-minute fame - would you agree times have changed?