A person’s taste in music and bands is constantly changing because people are always changing; therefore, we all are finding new music and artists that we can connect to with our contemporary emotions. Nevertheless, Conor Oberst has always managed to stay on my ultimate “favorite musicians list,” no matter how rapidly or dramatically I change. Earlier this year, 34-year old Oberst released his latest solo album, Upside Down Mountain, which conveys an emotional, mature tone and a more humanness, realistic style than his previous bands (like Bright Eyes or Monsters of Folk) while discussing the conventions of love, death, loneliness, and loss in the lyrics of the songs. However, a month before releasing Upside Down Mountain, Oberst released the B-Side “Fast Friends” for Record Store Day. The track isn’t on his current album, but it was leaked onto the Internet after the track’s premiere on KEXP.
“Fast Friends” is a six minute song that creates a 70’s rock atmosphere filled with a fuzzy, heavy ballad that is dignified and soulful. What makes this song so memorable and powerful is how it has the ability to unexpectedly change the energy of the room once Oberst delivers the solo-rock garage sound towards the end. Listening to this is equivalent to watching a thriller movie, and the bewildering twist leaves you in disbelief. Instead of being left in disbelief, listeners are left feeling examine their ongoing life experiences. When they do this, they feel understood and even inspired about living through all the changing aspects of this unsustainable life. This twist hits like a forceful wave, except you don’t mind because the water feels so natural and sincere; it is as if you are experiencing the touch of water for the first time. If the instrumental isn’t satisfying enough, the lyrics has a successfully artistic balance of being critical and comforting:
“A broken heart is a natural debt, but to never love that is tragic. There is far worse than the two I can assure you. It is never hard to make a fast friend. Someone to dance with until the song ends. The trick is getting loose once they got you. I don’t know what to tell you kid, but it really is too bad. All that I try to push away, all that I try to push away came back.”
“Fast Friends” is probably one of the strongest, most unforgettable songs Oberst has conceived of so far because it truly demonstrates his potential as an artist and individual. We not only hear how Oberst has changed throughout the years as a musician, but we also become aware of the change we have experienced and are currently experiencing ourselves. Nevertheless, no matter how much a person undergoes change, one can still feel he or she hasn’t changed into a better person because life’s difficulties will push them back to the beginning, which is one of the implied details Oberst shares in this song.
We are always in the process of changing, and we won’t stop changing for the rest of our lives. One thing that doesn’t change, however, is our search for belonging and understanding. This is why it is reassuring to know that there are individuals like Oberst who attempt to provide understanding and belonging to others – who try to be more than a “fast friend.”