Road to Joy

Album: I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning (2005)

Songfacts®:

  • This is a slightly more rollicking number than most Bright Eyes tracks, with a similar rockabilly sound to that used by Conor Oberst's side project, Desaparecidos. The lyrics are wide-ranging and poetic, and mix Oberst's penchant for melodious styles with difficult themes. Its tune draws inspiration from the Beethoven classic "Ode to Joy," with the addition of worldly, cynical lyrics.
  • "Road to Joy" is a complex song, even for Bright Eyes, dealing with various issues personally important to Conner Oberst instead of focusing on just one. These include politics ("So if you're asked to fight a war that's over nothing it's best to join the side that's gonna win"), self-loathing ("But failure's' always sounded better, let's f--k it up boys, make some noise"), and loneliness ("I have my drugs I have my woman, they keep away my loneliness").
  • This song featured more musically complex arrangements than previous releases by the band. The song was widely hailed by critics, and furthered Bright Eyes increasing mainstream presence. It is the last song on It's Wide Awake, It's Morning, and features a particularly emotive vocal performance by the quavery Oberst. It became a staple of Bright Eyes' live performances, and the band often close concerts with the song.
  • Conor Oberst is often criticized for his less-than-technically-masterful vocals. This is acknowledged in the lyric, "I could have been a famous singer if I had someone else's voice."
  • The song was performed live by the band on Late Show with Craig Ferguson, after which Oberst and trumpeter Nate Walcott destroyed their instruments.
  • This track includes the lyrics that was used as the album title: "I'm wake awake, it's morning."
  • This song appears on both I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning and the UK release of Motion Sickness.

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