I know that these days, Bright Eyes is largely considered music for dejected teenagers, but I still really love “Fevers and Mirrors”. I am one of those people who gets Seasonal Affective Disorder. It's a strange condition because even if things are fine in your life, it's difficult to shake the overall sense of melancholy that dark and damp days on end bring. Each winter since I first heard the album, I find myself coming back to it and there's always a different song or lyric that strikes a chord with me, depending on what my circumstances are. For instance, the first year I owned the album, I couldn't get through “The Calendar Hung Itself” without getting emotional. The album is full of dark themes, but there are rays of hope, and even…jokes in the form of a mock “interview” in which Oberst actually lampoons himself.
Interviewer: Now, let me now if I'm getting too personal, but there seem to be a pretty dark past back there somewhere. What was it like for you growing up?
Oberst: Dark? Not really… uh… actually I had a great childhood. My parents were wonderful. I went to a Catholic school. They have… they had money so… it… It was all… easy. Basically I had everything I wanted handed to me.
Interviewer: Really? So some of the references, like babies in bathtubs, are not biographical?
Oberst: Well I do have a brother who died in a bathtub. Drowned… Actually I had five brothers who died that way.
Oberst: No, I'm serious. My mother drowned one every year for five consecutive years…They were all named Padriag, so, that's…they all got one song.
I bet you didn't know he had a sense of humor. Granted this album came out in 2000. It's possible that he's lost his sense of humor since then and slipped into delusions of grandiose self-loathing. But I'll always employ “Fevers and Mirrors” to help me get through the winter.
No matter what songs feel appropriate in what years, there is usually one line that helps to assuage my general S.A.D.:
“Winter's gonna end, I'm gonna clean these veins again”.
It may seem unequivocal, but sometimes sometimes it's helpful, in the midst of endless dark and gloomy days, to be reminded that seasons are temporal and you can always start over.
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