A Machine Spiritual (In The People's Key)

Album: The People's Key (2011)

Songfacts®:

  • Conor Oberst explained the meaning of this haunting atmospheric ballad to NME: "It's the idea of when in the not-so-distant future, artificial intelligence surpasses human intelligence and humanity as a notion is just kind of quaint."
  • This is one of a handful of songs that Oberst wrote before sessions for The People's Key commenced. He told Billboard magazine the rest of the songs "were closely related and tied together and more deliberate... to where I saw [the album] was headed." The result weaves together topical, social and political issues, to help tie things together.

    "I don't think it's overtly political," Oberst explained. "There's a certain desire for common ground between people, just the idea that we're all kind of in the same boat and are all the same as far as the way human beings go. There's this future that's coming that's really trying to, I think, divide us more and in a lot of ways strip us of our human nature in the sense that now when you walk into a room it's like 20 people all staring down at this little screen in their hands, typing away, not looking at each other. That's kind of scary, and it's going to just keep going that way. I think it's a dangerous position to put ourselves in because our only chance of solving problems or disagreements is by talking to each other and seeing ourselves in each other."

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