Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Track Attack- "It's Cool, We Can Still Be Friends

Falling in and out of love is one of the oldest situations in all of popular music. Everyone from Roy Orbison to Morrissey to Drake has dealt with the topic at one time or another. In a jaded music-consuming society like America, we hate to hear that everything is "just peachy," it betrays our healthy skepticism. Yet, we tend to shy away for total dejection and denial, subjects a little to dark for our liking. It is into this darkness that Bright
Eyes plunges headfirst. 

From the moment the melancholic, slightly out-of-tune guitar enters in we should know this isn't going to be a "sunny day song." "Yeah you still kiss me, but it's just on the cheek," Bright Eyes mastermind Conor Oberst warbles with naked emotion. A slight din of xylophone accompanies the broken Oberst and he begins to recall calling a former-flame turned friend's answering machine, only to have her roommate answer. "You're at the bar," is the realization in the verse.

As the track moves languishingly forward, Oberst recalls a scene at home where the two watch movies, but "don't share the couch." The few feet between the two is a chasm for Oberst, one that can't be overcome. It's a chasm created by unseen wounds, told of in a "voice like a prayer."

"I guess that the truth, was just the ghost of your lies," Oberst dramatically decrees as the guitar-playing grows more fragmented. The line is a drastic turn of events in the song, the girl moving from friend to foe at the drop of hat. She's a foe that can only be forgotten by getting "real f**king drunk," Oberst yells during the final verse. "So drunk that I pass out and forget your face, by the time I wake up." This is the moment of defeat we should've seen coming, his buoyant soul drowning in the despondence of drink. Temporary escape in a glass bottle.

That this song remains an "unknown" work in Bright Eyes bristly catalog is no surprise. For all of the abject loneliness in the Bright Eyes, there was often an air of hope. With "It's Cool, We Can Still Be Friends," that air is rendered toxic, muddied by the words of a man giving up the idealism of "being friends."

 "It's Cool, We Can Still Be Friends"- Noise Floor (Rarities: 1998-2005)

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