5 of Our Favorite Conor Oberst Musical Collaborations
Conor Oberst is the frontman of Bright Eyes and one of the most respected songwriters in modern music, often compared to the likes of Bob Dylan. Over the span of his two-decade-plus career, he has jammed with some of the biggest, and most unique names in music. In anticipation of Bright Eyes at The Capitol Theatre on Wednesday, April 6, we explored a handful of his collaborations with artists we love. Check it out and get your tickets HERE!
1. Emmylou Harris
Bright Eyes frontman Conor Oberst and country music legend Emmylou Harris collaborated on 2005’s critically-acclaimed album, I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning. On “Land Locked Blues” Oberst and Harris display a rough-hewn harmony as they sing about the past, present, and future through the lens of an existential crisis. Fiercely political and virulently anti-war, the song is more powerful than ever. Metaphorically landlocked and simultaneously hoping to be freed, Harris’ vocal range beautifully compliments Oberst’s tone in this ballad of longing.
2. Phoebe Bridgers
Oberst and Phoebe Bridgers have developed a close-knit friendship over the years, blessing us with stunning collaborations on both individual tracks and 2019’s album, Better Oblivion Community Center, that display each artist’s individual talent while remaining a cohesive unit. On the recent reworking of “Haligh, Haligh, A Lie, Haligh,” off of Bright Eyes’ Fevers and Mirrors, Bridgers describes “a meaningful way to connect with the past that doesn’t feel totally nostalgic and self-indulgent.”
3. Jim James & M. Ward
You can’t make a list of Oberst collaborations without including the supergroup Monsters of Folk. Consisting of both Conor Oberst and Mike Mogis of Bright Eyes, Jim James of My Morning Jacket (who have played at The Cap four times!), and beloved singer-songwriter, M. Ward! The group’s first single, “Say Please” sets the tone for their self-titled album, with Oberst’s vocals and guitar anchoring the sound, blending with James’ distinctive delivery and Wards harmonies. The influence of Ward and James can be felt throughout the rest of Oberst’s career, culminating on the songs being played here on April 6 from Down In The Weeds, Where The World Once Was.
Cap favorites Dawes are not only a great band in their own right, having played The Cap four times themselves, and recently playing as Phil Lesh’s “Friends” on Halloween 2021, but also as the Bright Eyes singers’ backing band when he toured in support of his 2014 solo album, Upside Down Mountain. The love runs deep between the two, and we can’t wait to have Bright Eyes on the same stage as his bands have been on.
For their latest album, “Down in the Weeds, Where the World Once Was,” Bright Eyes teamed up with Flea of The Red Hot Chili Peppers on seven different songs. On one part of “One and Done” Oberst could “just hear” how the bass should sound. Flea agreed his contribution to the song is one of Oberst’s favorite instrumental sections on the record. Flea contributed “beautiful, melodic, almost classical” bass playing on most of the album, rather than his trademark experimental bass.
Words by Lilly Carey