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Musical Thank You #10: Conor Oberst

Conor Oberst album coverTime for another “Musical Thank You.” This time the thank you goes out to one of my two favorite daughters, Tamara, for introducing me to the music of Conor Oberst and others.

Tammy has a taste for singer-songwriters and “literate rock”[1] that matches my own. Oberst is one of several talented artists introduced to me by her. Off the top of my head, I would also credit her for tipping me off to The Swell Season, Elbow, and The Hold Steady.[2]

Conor Oberst is the artist I’m choosing to focus on today. It was probably three years ago when Tammy presented me with his self-titled album (from which the track on the video below was taken). Since that time I have purchased his Cassadaga (recorded with his band Bright Eyes) and his most recent disc, Upside Down Mountain. It’s only a matter of time before I own his entire catalog.

Oberst has at one time or another been saddled with the “a new Bob Dylan” curse. I don’t hear it. He cites as influences The Cure, Leonard Cohen, John Prine and Elliott Smith. Mash them all together, squint, and comb through Dylan’s catalog–it should be possible to find some Oberst-Dylanesque music. Dylan profoundly influenced all of those artists. Elliott Smith seems the best comparison to me, though it really isn’t a close one.

The names of Oberst’s various backing bands and side projects make for an interesting list: Bright Eyes, The Mystic Valley Band, Monsters of Folk, Desaparecidos, Commander Venus, Park Ave, The Faint, The Magnetas, and Norman Bailer.

Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band, “Cape Canaveral”:


  1. I’m pretty sure I just made up the term “literate rock.” I know what I mean, at least.[^]
  2. She did introduce me to The Hold Steady, but I had seen lead singer Craig Finn at First Ave’s 7th Street Entry years earlier. He was fronting his old band, Lifter Puller.[^]


Musical Thank Yous:
10/04/2019 #12: The Beatles
08/19/2016 #11: Van Morrison
04/11/2016 #10: Conor Oberst
01/29/2016 #9: Reina del Cid
10/01/2015 #8: Ron Sexsmith and Neko Case
05/13/2015 #7: Elvis Costello
10/09/2014 #6: Longhair Music
08/27/2014 #5: Neil Young
06/19/2014 #4: Arcade Fire
03/14/2014 #3: Mike Doughty
02/10/2014 #2: Lucinda Williams
02/07/2014 #1: Richard Thompson

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