The Ten Essential Conor Oberst Songs

Published: July 20, 2014

Conor Oberst is a musician who is often compared to legends like Bob Dylan. I have been a fan of his work for ten years now and feel justified in taking his discography which spans over two decades and naming the ten greatest accomplishments in his career. I do have to preface this entire Top Ten List by saying this is solely my opinion and should be taken as such. I am writing this with the intention of taking an overwhelmed newcomer to his music who doesn't know where to begin or what to listen to first and making that easier for them.

This list is in no particular order (I could never order these tracks!)

  1. Napoleon's Hat

    Napoleon's Hat is one of his most underrated songs period, because it is a tad bit hard to find. It was released on a Saddle Creek compilation album whose procceeds went to support the victims of Hurricane Katrina. On the track with Conor is Jenny Lewis, who is famous for being the front woman in the indie rock band Rilo Kiley.  This song covers many important view points so vividly sung it's as if it's more so a movie and not a song. It's a must hear song,  and one that will definitely help determine if you should go on to hear more from this artist.

  2. Bad Blood

    Just typing the title "Bad Blood" out gives me chills because of how amazing this song is. The words, the message, the mood, the melody and the music are so powerful. Interesting to note, Conor did not write the music. His friend wrote the instrumental and asked him to write words and a melody over it. Of course, Conor absolutely destroyed it, complimenting it only like he can. The semi lo-fi ambience in the vocals that accompanies the tone of the music pays homage in a way to his earlier work while showing the evolution in his song writing ability.

  3. Hungry For A Holiday

    Hungry For A Holiday is on the same release "Bad Blood" is on, making the release itself (A two song 7 inch record) a highly coveted item in my collection. This song holds a very special place in my heart, as it was arguably the first "rarity" by him I ever heard. It's a bit awkward to call songs like this a rarity or a "b-side" of sorts because of how good it is... When it comes down to it a man like Conor Oberst is not capable of producing B-Sides because nothing he puts out qualifies to be cut from any full length.

  4. Breakfast In Bed

    Ah, Breakfast In Bed was a song Conor did with the musical project "Dntel". Dntel, who is of 'Postal Service' Fame created the beat and like the track "Bad Blood", Conor wrote the words and melody on top of it. This song is by far my favorite song of his, lyrically. The bridge lights you up with its gut wrenching honesty for feelings out of his control. If you're a fan of the band 'The Postal Service' I highly reccomend you give this song a listen, and if you're not a fan of that band, it's still great enough to stand on its own, I promise.

  5. Landlocked Blues

    We've arrived at number five on my list to a song that is not considered a rarity, but is a track off one of his full length records. It's of my opinion this is one of his strongest I've-Got-A-Message tunes he has ever written, period. As each line pours out of his voice you feel what he feels more and more and you understand that while what he is singing about is merely his opinion, the way he belts those opinions out make it justifiably seem like fact. While it may be foolish of me to call Landlocked Blues underrated because of the adoration that accompanies it, I feel I have no choice but to anyway, because to me no matter how many people enjoy it, it will always be underrated.

  6. Something Vague

    This song is beautiful... Gorgeous, powerful, honest and heart breaking. I don't know which part moves me more, the words or the music. If you haven't yet heard this song and plan on hearing it for the first time because of this list, I envy you.  If I woke up on Christmas morning and could erase my knowledge of this songs existance only to hear it again for the very first time it would be the greatest gift imaginable. If you listen to this song and find it unappealing I can say with confidence you should stop there and not give the rest of his catalogue a listen.

  7. June On The West Coast

    I wouldn't only call this my favorite song of his, but my favorite song of all time. The line "My Heart Has Thawed And Continues To Beat" gets to me every single time. I study that line, I  learn from that line and I take that line into consideration every time I'm facing a dark moment in my life. It helps show me that no matter how bad things may get, one's heart will thaw, repair and beat again. I can also say this - This song is the most underrated gem in his collection. It's a love song not enough people have had the pleasure of hearing, and that's a real shame.

  8. First Day Of My Life

    Speaking of love songs, First Day Of My Life is THE love song of this man's career. It's highly praised, adored and regarded as one of the greatest love songs of all time. It feels weird referring to his music as songs because part of me wants to call them stories. First Day Of My Life is Conor's Pancho & Lefty (Something fans of Townes Van Zandt will understand)... It's a wedding song, a couples song and a song that puts a smile on your face and warms your heart no matter what. Listen to it, appreciate it and breathe a sigh of releif that you didn't die before you heard it.

  9. Souled Out

    I'm putting this track on this list because it's the best song to play when you want to prove your friends who regard Conor as someone who only writes whiney slow, depressing songs about loss. This song is as upbeat and fun as it gets (He even includes an outtake from recording this song where his then girlfriend, now wife makes him LAUGH). This songs a party and a foot tapper and something I feel even people who hate the majority of his work will find enjoyable. If you're uncertain where to BEGIN when hearing his music, your best bet is to start here.

  10. Desert Island Questionnaire

    One of his newers songs, off his 2014 full length solo album "Upside Down Mountain", Desert Island Questionnaire packs a punch and a half. I don't really know what to say about this song. It's an explosion. It makes you sick to your stomach, full of adoration. It's one of the most honest songs he has ever written and one that will stand the test of time. Not many talk about it now, but in the future I guarantee you they will.

That's my list! I hope if you're considering giving this guy a listen to, this list helps you figure out where to start. Much love for taking the time to read through it and once again, this is just one man's opinion.