A Spindle, A Darkness, A Fever, and A Necklace

You turn on a spindle
You're so much looser now, but you're not explaining how
You gained such new repose
I touch the clasp of your locket, with its picture held
Some secret you wouldn't tell
But let it choke your neck
So imagine a darkness, where all shapes divide, solids changing into light
With a burst of heat so bright
Well fine, don't you do what I want you to
Don't degrade yourself the way I do
Because you don't depend on all the shit that I use
To make my moods improve
Near a sea of pianos, there were waves of chords that crashed against the shore
In one huge and pointless roar
And there were girls bringing water, like a dream they came
To cure the fever of my brain and soothe my burning throat
And they made me a necklace, hanging beads of sweat on a string of my regrets
And placed it round my neck, and they were singing,
"Don't you do what you've wanted to
Yeah, don't destroy yourself like those cowards do
And maybe the sun keeps coming up because it has gotten used to you
And your constant need for proof


A Scale, A Mirror, and These Indifferent Clocks

Here's a scale, weigh it out and you'll find, easily
More than sufficient doubt that these colors you see were picked in advance
By some careful hand with an absolute concept of beauty
They are smeared and these blurs come in random order
And they color the eyes of your former lovers
Hers were green like July, except when she cried they were red
Now, I know a disease that these doctors can't treat
You contract on the day you accept all you see
Is a mirror, and a mirror is all it can be-
A reflection of something we're missing
And language just happened, it was never planned
And it's inadequate to describe where I am
In the room of my house where the light's never been
Waiting for this day to end
And these clocks keep unwinding and completely ignore
Everything that we hate or adore
Once the page of a calendar is turned it's no more
So tell me then, what was it for?
Oh tell me, what was it for?


The Calendar Hung Itself

Does he kiss your eyelids in the morning when you start to raise your head?
And does he sing to you incessantly from the place between your bed and wall?
Does he walk around all day at school with his feet inside your shoes?
Looking down every few steps to pretend he walks with you?
Oh, does he know that place below your neck that is your favorite to be touched?
And does he cry through broken sentences, like 'I love you far too much'?
Does he lay awake listening to your breath?
Worried that you smoke too many cigarettes?
Is he coughing now on a bathroom floor?
For every speck of tile there's a thousand more
You won't ever see, but must hold inside yourself eternally
Well, I drug your ghost across the country and we plotted out my death
In every city, memories would whisper, 'Here is where you rest'
I was determined in Chicago but I dug my teeth into my knees
And I settled for a telephone and sang into your machine
'You are my sunshine, my only sunshine
You are my sunshine, my only sunshine'
And I kissed a girl with a broken jaw that her father gave to her
She had eyes bright enough to burn me, they reminded me of yours
And in a story told she was a little girl in a red-rouge, sun-bruised field
And there were rows of ripe tomatoes where a secret was concealed
And it rose like thunder, clapped under our hands
And it stretched for centuries to a diary entry's end where I wrote,
'You make me happy when skies are gray
You make me happy when skies are gray, and gray, and gray'
Well the clock's heart, it hangs inside its open chest
With hands stretched towards the calendar hanging itself
But I will not weep for those dying days
For all the ones who've left there's a few that've stayed
And they found me here and pulled me from the grass where I was laid


Something Vague

Now and again it seems worse than it is
But mostly the view is accurate
You see your breath in the air as you climb up the stairs
To that coffin you call your apartment
And you sink in the chair, brush the snow from your hair
And drink the cold away
And you're not really sure what you're doing this for
But you need something to fill up the days
A few more hours
There's a dream in my brain that just won't go away
It's been stuck there since it came a few nights ago
I'm standing on a bridge in the town where I lived
As a kid with my mom and my brothers
And then the bridge disappears and I'm standing on air with nothing holding me
And I hang like a star, fucking glow in the dark
For all their starving eyes to see
Like the ones we've wished on, but now I'm confused
Is this death really you?
Do these dreams have any meaning?
No, no, I think it's more like a ghost
That's been following us both
Something vague that we're not seeing
Something more like a feeling


The Movement of a Hand

You follow the footsteps, echoes leading down a hall
To a room, there's music playing, tiny bells with moving parts
Here the shadows make things ugly, an effect quite undesirable
And the gold and yellow daylight grows like ivy across the wall
And it bounces off of the painted porcelain, a tiny dancing doll
Her body spins, as she pirouettes again, the world suddenly seems small
On an off-white, subtle morning
You stretch your legs in the front seat
And the road has made a vacuum where our voices used to be
And you lay your head onto my shoulder, pour like water over me
So if I just exist for the next ten minutes of this drive that would be fine
And all these trees that line this curb would be rejoicing and alive
Soon all the joy that pours from everything makes fountains of your eyes
Because you finally understand the movement of a hand
Waving good-bye



The fragile keep secrets, gathered in pockets
And they'll sell them for nothing, a cheap watch or locket
That kind of gold washes off
And the sad act like lepers, they stick to the shadows
They long to ring bells of warning to tell of their coming
So that the pure can shut their doors
And the angry are animals, senseless and savage
They act without order in logical lapses
They stain their mouths with blood
So take my hand, this barren land is alive tonight
Oh, the corn has grown stalks that form a wall too high
But the wind carries sounds that I can't see from beyond that line
Then the stalks begin to sway
Oh, stay with me, Arienette, until the wolves are away
The wicked are vultures, and they bake in the canyons
They circle in sunlight and wait for their victims
To collapse and call to them
And the desperate are water, they'll run down forever
As they soak into silence and end up together
In a dark and distant, dark and distant place
So don't leave me here, with only mirrors watching me
This house, it holds nothing but the memories
And the moon, it leaves silver but never sleep
And then the sunlight turns to gray
Oh, stay with me, Arienette, until the wolves are away


When the Curious Girl Realizes That She is Under Glass

Tomorrow when I wake up I'm finding my brother
And I'm making him take me back down to the water
That lake where we sailed and we laughed with our father
I will not desert him, I will not desert him
No matter how I may wish for a coffin so clean
Or these trees to undress all their leaves onto me
I'll put my face in the dirt and then finally I'll see
The sky that has been avoiding me
Well, I started this letter, I'm gonna send it to Ruba
It will be blessed by her eyes on the gulf coast of Florida
With her feet in the sand and one hand on her swimsuit
She'll recite the prayer of my pen
Saying, time take us forward
Relief from this longing
They can land that plane on my heart, I don't care
Just give me November, the warmth of a whisper
In the freezing darkness of my room
But no matter what I would do in attempt to replace
All these pills that I take trying to balance my brain
I see the curious girl with that look on her face
So surprised, she stares out from her display case


Haligh, Haligh, A Lie, Haligh

The phone slips from a loose grip
Words were missed like some apology
I didn't want to tell you this
No, it's just some guy she's been hanging out with
I don't know, the past couple of weeks I guess
Thank you and hang up the phone
Let the funeral start, hear the casket close
Let's pin split-black ribbon to your overcoat
But laughter pours from under doors
In this house, I don't understand that sound no more
It seems artificial, like a T.V. set
Well, haligh, haligh, haligh, haligh
This weight it must be satisfied
You offer only one reply
You know not what you do
As you tear and tear your hair from roots
From that same head you have twice removed now
A lock of hair you said would prove our love would never die
Well ha ha ha
I remember everything, the words we spoke on freezing South street
And all those morning watching you get ready for school
You combed your hair inside that mirror
The one you painted blue and glued with jewelry tears
Something about those bright colors would always make you feel better
But now we speak with ruined tongues and the words we say aren't meant for anyone
It's just a mumbled sentence to a passing acquaintance
But there was once you
You said you hate my suffering and you understood and you'd take care of me
You'd always be there, well where are you now?
Haligh, haligh, haligh, haligh
The plans were never finalized
But left to hang like yarn and twine dangling before my eyes
As you tear and tear your hair from roots
From that same head you have twice removed now
A lock of hair you said would prove our love would never die
And I sing and sing unlawful things, the pleasure that my sadness brings
As my fingers press onto the strings yet another clumsy chord
Haligh, haligh, an awful lie
This weight would now be satisfied
I'm gonna give you only one reply, I know not who I am
But I talk in the mirror to the stranger that appears
Our conversations are circles, always one-sided, nothing is clear
Except we keep coming back to this meaning that I lack
He says the choices were given and now you must live them
Or just not live, but do you want that?


The Center of the World

At the center of the world there's a statue of a girl
She is standing near a well with a bucket bare and dry
I went and looked her in the eyes and she turned me into sand
This clumsy form that I despise, it scattered easy in her hand
And came to rest upon a beach, with a million others there
We sat and waited for the sea to stretch out so that we could disappear
Into the endlessness of blue, into the horror of the truth
See, we are far less than we knew
Yeah, we are far less than we knew
But we knew what we could taste
Girls found honey to drench our hands, the men cut marble to mark our graves
Said, we'll need something to remind us of
All the sweetness that has passed through us
(fresh sangria and lemon tea)
The priest dressed children for choir
(white-robed small voices praise Him)
But found no joy in what was sung
The funeral had begun
In the middle of the day when you drive home to your place
From that job that makes you sleep back to the thoughts that keep you awake
Long after night has come to claim any light that still remains
In the corner of the frame that you put around her face
Two pills just weren't enough
The alarm clock's going off, but you're not waking up
This isn't happening, happening, happening, happening, happening
It is


Sunrise, Sunset

Sunrise, sunset, sunrise, sunset, swiftly go the days
Sunrise, sunset, you wake up, then you undress, it always is the same
A sunrise and a sunset, you are lying while you confess, keep trying to explain
The sunrise and the sun sets, you realize and then you forget
What you have been trying to retain
But everybody knows that it's all about the things that get stuck inside of your head
Like the songs your roommate sings, a vision of her body as she stretches out on your bed
She raised her hands in the air, asked you
"When was the last time you looked in the mirror?
'Cause you've changed, yeah, you've changed"
Sunrise, sunset, you're hopeful, then you regret, the circle never breaks
With a sunrise and sunset there's a change of heart or address, is there nothing that remains?
For a sunrise or a sunset, you're manic or you're depressed, will you ever feel ok?
For a sunrise and a sunset, your lover is an actress, did you really think she'd stay?
For a sunrise or a sunset, you're either coming or you just left
But you're always on the way
Towards a sunrise or a sunset, a scribble or a sonnet, they are really just the same
To the sunrise or the sunset, the master and his servant have exactly the same fate
It's a sunrise and a sunset, from a cradle to a casket, there is no way to escape
The sunrise and the sunset, hold your sadness like a puppet, keep putting on the play
But everything you do is leading to the point where you just won't know what to do
And at the moment you are laughing, there is someone there who will be laughing louder than you
So it's true, the trick is complete
You've become everything you said you never would be
You're a fool, you're a fool
Sunrise, sunset, sunrise, sunset
The sunrise and the sunset, go home to your apartment
Put the cassette in the tape deck and let that fever play
Sunrise, sunset, where are you, Arienette?
Where are you, Arienette?


An Attempt to Tip the Scales

Did you expect it all to stop at the wave of your hand?
Like the sun's just gonna drop if it's night you demand
Well, in the dark we are just air so the house might dissolve
But once we're gone, who's gonna care if we were ever here at all?
Well, summer's gonna come, it's gonna cloud our eyes again
There's no need to focus when there's nothing that's worth seeing
So we trade liquor for blood in an attempt to tip the scales
I think you lost what you loved in that mess of details
They seemed so important at the time but now you can't even recall
Any of the names, faces, or lines, it's more the feeling of it all
Well, winter's gonna end, I'm gonna clean these veins again
So close to dying that I finally can start living
All right


A Song to Pass the Time

There's a middle-aged woman, she's dragging her feet
She carries baskets of clothes to a laundromat
While the Mexican children kick rocks into the street
And they laugh in a language I don't understand
But I love them, why do I love them?
The neighborhood's dimming, I smoke on the porch
And watch the people as they pass enclosed inside their cars
On their faces just anger or disappointment
I start wishing there was something I could offer them
A consolation, what could I offer them?
Well, they are sad in their suburbs
Robots water the lawn, and everything they touch gets dusted spotless
So they start to believe they've not touched anything at all
And the cars in the driveway only multiply
They are lost in their houses, I've heard them sing in the shower
Making speeches to their sister on the telephone, saying, You come home
Woman, you come here, don't stay so far away from me
This weather has me wanting love more tangible
Something I can hold 'cause it's getting cold
Let's hold up our fists to the flame in the sky
To block out the light that's reaching for our eyes
Because it would blind us, it will blind us
Now I've locked my actions in the grooves of routine
So I may never be free of this apathy
But I wait for a letter that's coming to me
She sends me pictures of the ocean in an envelope
So there still is hope, yes, I can be healed
There is someone looking for what I've concealed
In my secret drawer, in my pockets deep
You will find the reasons that I can't sleep and you will still want me
But will you still want me?
Come for the week, you can sleep in my bed
And pass through my life like a dream through my head
It will be easy, I'll make it easy
All I have for the moment is a song to pass the time
And a melody to keep me from worrying
Some simple progression to keep my fingers busy
And words that are sure to come back to me, and they will be laughing
My mediocrity, my mediocrity


Radio Interview Transcript

Radio: Hi, we're back. This is Radio KX and we're here with Conor Oberst of the band Bright Eyes. How are you doing Conor?

Conor: Fine, thanks. Just a little wet

Radio: Oh yeah, it's still coming down out there

Conor: Yeah, I sort of had to run from the car

Radio: Well, we are glad you made it. Now your new album, Fevers and Mirrors. Tell us a little bit about the title. I noticed there was a good deal of repeated imagery in the lyrics, fevers . . . mirrors, scales, clocks. Could you discuss some of this?

Conor: Sure. Let's see, the fever is . . .

Radio: First let me say, that this is a brilliant record, man, we're all really into it here at the station. We get lots of calls, it's really good stuff

Conor: Thanks, thanks a lot

Radio: So talk a little bit about some of the symbolism

Conor: The fever?

Radio: Sure

Conor: Well the fever is basically whatever ails you or oppresses you, it could be anything. In my case it's my neurosis, my depression, but I don't want to be limited to that. It's certainly different for different people. It's whatever keeps you up at night

Radio: I see

Conor: And then the mirror is like, as you might have guessed, self-examination or reflection or whatever form. This could be vanity or self-loathing. I don't know, I'm guilty of both

Radio: That's interesting. How about the scale?

Conor: The scale is essentially our attempt to solve our problems quantitatively through logic or rationalization. In my opinion it's often fruitless, but always, well, not always. And the clocks and calendars, etcetera, its just time, our little measurements. It's like, it's always chasing after us

Radio: It is, it is. How about this Arienette, how does she fit in to all of this?

Conor: I'd prefer not talk about it, in case she's listening

Radio: Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't realize she was a real person

Conor: She's not, but I made her up

Radio: Oh, so she's not real?

Conor: Just as real as you or I

Radio: I don't think I understand

Conor: Neither do I, but after I grow up I will. I mean, you know what, a lot of things are really unclear for me right now

Radio: That's interesting. Now you mentioned your depression

Conor: No I didn't

Radio: You're from Nebraska, right?

Conor: Yeah, that's right

Radio: Now let me know if I'm getting to personal, but there seems to be a pretty dark past back there somewhere. What was it like for you growing up?

Conor: Dark? Not really. Actually I had a great childhood. My parents were wonderful. I went to a Catholic school. They have, I had money, so it was all easy. I basically had everything that I wanted anytime

Radio: Really? So some of the references like babies in bathtubs are not biographical?

Conor: Well I did have a brother who died in a bathtub . . . he drowned. Well actually I had five brothers that drowned

Radio: (Chuckle)

Conor: No, I'm serious. My mother drowned one every year for five consecutive years. They were all named Padraic, and that's why they only got one song. It's kind of like walking out a door and discovering that it's a window

Radio: But your music is certainly very personal

Conor: Of course, I put a lot of myself into what I do. It's like being an author, you have to free yourself to use symbolism and allegory to meet your goal. And part of that is compassion, empathy for other people and their situations. Some of what I sing about comes from other people's experiences. It shouldn't matter, the message is intended to be universal

Radio: I see what you mean

Conor: Could you make that sound stop, please?

Radio: Yes. And your goal?

Conor: I don't know. Create feelings I guess. A song never ends up the way you planned it

Radio: That's funny you'd say that, do you think that . . .

Conor: Do you ever hear things that aren't really there?

Radio: I'm sorry, what?

Conor: Never mind. How long have you worked at this station?

Radio: Oh, just a few minutes. Now you mentioned empathy for others. Would you say that that motivates you to make the music that you make?

Conor: No, not really. It's more a need for sympathy. I want people to feel sorry for me. I like to feel the burn of the audience's eyes on me when I'm revealing all my darkest secrets into the microphone. When I was a kid I used to carry a safety pin around with me every where I went in my pocket, and when people weren't paying enough attention to me, I'd dig it into my arm until I started crying. Everyone would stop what they were doing and ask me what was the matter. I guess, I guess I kind of liked that

Radio: Really, you're telling me that you're doing all of this for attention?

Conor: No, I hate it when people look at me, I get nauseous. In fact, I could care less what people think about me. Do you feel that?

Radio: No, I feel sick

Conor: I really just want to be this warm yellow light that pours over everyone that I love

Radio: So you're going to play something for us now? Is this a new song?

Conor: Yeah, but I haven't written it yet. It's one I've been meaning to write called A Song To Pass The Time

Radio: Oh, that's a nice title

Conor: You should write your own scripts

Radio: Yeah, I know