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I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning

4.0 out of 5 stars 284 customer reviews

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Audio CD, January 25, 2005
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The first of two albums (as in, the first to be laid down on tape) is titled I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning; a country-tinged m‚lange of Conor's finest acoustic songs, featuring guest vocal appearances from Emmylou Harris and Jim James (My Morning Jacket).

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Conor Oberst is running on dangerous ground: getting his first Dylan comparisons at age 12, frolicking with Winona Ryder, releasing two separate albums at once. Didn't he learn anything from Ryan Adams's mistakes? It's a good thing he can write such haunting, intimate songs. I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning (released simultaneously with Digital Ash in a Digital Urn) is the album the Omaha native has always threatened to make, channeling his country rock influences into articulate, witty ballads that come to life with gorgeous harmonies supplied by Emmylou Harris. The tumbling "We Are Nowhere and It's Now" might be his first actual masterpiece, while the words of album closer "Road to Joy" ("I could've been a famous singer if I had someone else's voice/ But failure's always sounded better") indicate that Oberst might have his head screwed on right after all. -- Aidin Vaziri
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (January 25, 2005)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Saddle Creek
  • ASIN: B00070FV0M
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (284 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,212 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
So many of the negative reviews here seem to center around people's distaste for the media hype that surrounds this kid. What this has to do with the music he creates is of little relevance to me. I try and listen to music with an unbiased ear. It seems to me that most people came to this album with a certain prejudice, and that's a shame. Reading through these reviews makes me feel really out of touch with the pop music scene, and it also makes me glad that I am. I had never heard of Bright Eyes or Connor Oberst, and bought the cd because it showed up on my "amazon recommends" list. I had no real expectations for the cd, but I always "try to like" any cd that I spend my hard-earned money on. Well, I didn't have to try very hard to like it. The cd is full of beautiful songs. The lyrics, which have been described by some as "whiny," might not suit everyone's tastes, and that's fine. But thank God music is about more than lyrics, it's about how those lyrics fit into the context of the song and Connor O. seems to understand that concept. I understand the comparisons to Dylan, even if I don't fully agree with them (Gram Parsons might be a closer match - though Emmylou's voice might be influencing my ear in that comparison). There is a similarity to the way both Dylan and Oberst phrase their lyrics, and both employ lyrical metaphor to great effect. But the main similarity is that they both have a remarkable way of conveying raw emotion in seemingly simple songs.

In short, I generally read one-star and 5-star reviews with an extreme grain of salt so I was reluctant to give this cd a 5-star rating. However, it's the best cd I've bought in a long time and to give it anything less than 5 stars would be disingenous.
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Format: Audio CD
I'll admit it, right off: at first I just didn't get Conor Oberst (Bright Eyes). I was either too common or too evolved to buy into his thing, whatever it was and is. Many have boasted that he is a genius, and as many others have convicted him a pretentious fraud. Without a doubt, the first songs I heard grew on me and I liked him. I didn't get him, but I liked the music. I exposed myself to more and then started feeling a little duped. There was a rambling quality to his songs: a little over-wordy. And then I felt the emotions he was conveying were a bit forced- as if he were trying too hard. I lost my ambition to know his music better.

Then, serendipitously, I saw him perform on Austin City Limits. Somehow, what couldn't be translated through my headphones became palpable as I watched and listened. There was an intensity I had previously missed that was all too there as I watched him sweat out the songs before an audience. The passion stuck inside me like a sweet and toxic glue and I found myself infected for life. Now I listen to every song as an afflicted man. I innately "get it" and I absolutely love it.

If you can see Bright Eyes, then you'll truly hear him and thus, feel him. That's how I "see" it. And that's how I got it. Look, I was one who lamented the rise of video music, feeling it detracted from the purity of what music is all about, but this is not about video. It's about connecting the person to his or her songs. Who can deny that seeing the Beatles impacts one as much as hearing the Beatles does?

There's a reason many of us go out of the way to see our favorite artists live. Instinctively, we know there is something elemental to watching them play the songs that come from their souls. We must hear AND see the fire to feel the fire. And Bright Eyes is on fire here.
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Format: Audio CD
I am among the many people who read, specially preceding this album's release, much about Oberst's talent before listening to what he has to offer here.

In general, passionate praise for a new musician -particularly when compared to legends like Dylan- has a negative effect on me. I'm more likely to grow skeptical and doubt their value than embracing them, blinded by positive reviews. "I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning" is an absolute exception to my usual incredulity. I must say I was deeply gratified to see that it lived up to the hype.

I would still not compare him to Dylan -to me, one of the greatest American songwriters who ever lived- yet there are other talented people who do come to mind, with whom reasonable comparisons can be made.

Most recently, in terms of remarkable new voices, Ryan Adams comes to mind. Like Adams, Oberst already shows a depth of feeling beyond his years, and a breadth of musical interests that are beyond average. It does not hurt either, although it would not establish a parallel, that Emmylou Harris offered his voice to both artists' recordings, I think too highly of Ms. Harris to assume that she'd agree to sing here for any other reason than admiration for this young man's songs.

This album is incredibly mature, both musically and lyrically. It is clearly the work of someone who feels deeply the high and low moments of being alive -then again, most people do- what I'm impressed about is that it does not deteriorate into an emotional private diary, which although meaningful to the person writing it, usually holds very little value to the rest of us.

Songs like "We Are Nowhere And It's Now" and "Old Soul Song (For The New World Order)" -both with Emmylou Harris in vocals- are stunning examples of this guy's talent.
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