Shell Games

Album: The People's Key (2011)


  • "Shell Games" was the first released single off of the 2011 Bright Eyes album The People's Key, the eighth studio album by American indie/folk band, Bright Eyes. On it, band frontman Conor Oberst sings of love and alienation from a more adult perspective, coupled with the desire to share his burdens and seek help carrying his "heavy load."
  • Saddle Creek originally gave the song away as a free download in December 2010. Label owner Robb Nansel told Billboard magazine it is, "a good introduction to the record. It starts out sounding like what you expect from Bright Eyes, then ventures off into this other territory." The song's use of synth pop and anthemic major chords recall 1980s pop rock.
  • The music video for the song, directed by Nik Fackler, is set in a ramshackle yet stylish house draped in fabric, with the band playing as though for a house show for themselves. The group performance then moves outside around a bonfire, before the final shots, presumably the morning after the house show party, reveal that the house has been overtaken by unusual zoo animals.
  • The People's Key marked a turning point for Bright Eyes. Oberst told Spinner, "The songs [on new album 'The People's Key'] were written all over the course of the last year and a half. When I started writing the first few songs, I didn't know what direction the record was going to take. Once the first three or four songs were written, I started to see the template emerge of what was going to become the record."


Be the first to comment...

Editor's Picks

Dr. JohnSongwriter Interviews

The good doctor shares some candid insights on recording with Phil Spector and The Black Keys.

Sub Pop Founder Bruce Pavitt On How To Create A Music SceneSong Writing

With $50 and a glue stick, Bruce Pavitt created Sub Pop, a fanzine-turned-label that gave the world Nirvana and grunge. He explains how motivated individuals can shift culture.

Lace the Music: How LSD Changed Popular MusicSong Writing

Starting in Virginia City, Nevada and rippling out to the Haight-Ashbury, LSD reshaped popular music.

Lita FordSongwriter Interviews

Lita talks about how they wrote songs in The Runaways, and how she feels about her biggest hit being written by somebody else.

Don Brewer of Grand FunkSongwriter Interviews

The drummer and one of the primary songwriters in Grand Funk talks rock stardom and Todd Rundgren.

Which Restaurants Are Most Mentioned In Song Lyrics?Song Writing

Katy Perry mentions McDonald's, Beyoncé calls out Red Lobster, and Supertramp shouts out Taco Bell - we found the 10 restaurants most often mentioned in songs.