Monday, November 14, 2011

Song #16 of 9999 - Four Winds by Bright Eyes

Song #16 of 9999

Title: Four Winds
Artist: Bright Eyes
Year: 2007
Album: Cassadaga

Bright Eyes is a band (guy?) I could never get into because of Conor Oberst's voice. I've found that the tone quality of a singer's voice has prevented me from liking a number of popular bands, most notably White Stripes. But I digress. Anyway, his voice was so whiny and annoying with wide vibrato, I just couldn't listen to anything he wrote.

Then he came out with his 2007 "grown-up" release, Cassadega, and I decided to give him another chance. What actually happened is I was teaching a pop music class and had read in a magazine about a song on the record that sounded like it was produced by Phil Spector (called "Make a Plan to Love Me"). So I decided to buy the track so the class could hear a modern example of the influence of the legendary producer. I remember so vividly the reaction of one of my students, a diehard Bright Eyes fan, who absolutely despised the song. It clearly lacked the angst upon which Oberst had built his reputation and, indeed, the voice was much more controlled.

I later picked up the album and was absolutely blown away by "Four Winds." The lyrics are brilliant, the arrangement perfect, the recording and performance alive with energy. I've probably heard this song a hundred times and enjoyed every one of them. The chorus is one of the most exciting things I've heard in pop music in the past ten years. I'm now completely sold on this kid (okay, he's 31), who I think is the best lyricist of his generation.

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