I‘ve always thought that the sound of the record crackling at 36 seconds and beyond, was actually the sound of fireworks erupting to an unobservant crowd. It’s not, obviously, but there’s something in this image that seems to fit.
Conor Oberst is debating the virtues of performing, and of the way he lives his life. He may figure it out in his final verse, but by leaving and shutting the door, we’re left thinking he didn’t truly mean it. This is complemented by the instrumentation bleeding so much emotion to this spoiled boy’s rant, that it almost makes him sound human. Almost.
The strings stretch out the whole song to breaking point, and never cease to amaze me. The percussion is the brash simplistic brother of that used on Pet Sounds, whilst the vocal meanders along the simplistic melody line with the grace of a man singing for the first time. But it’s this simplicity and obvious imperfections that leaves this period of Oberst’s work as his most compelling, with this song sitting head and shoulders above the rest.