Continuing on the song-by-song theme for this week’s Song Of The Day, we get to day three that started with Rilo Kiley, took us to Coconut Records ode to the “West Coast”, to today’s song – “First Day Of My Life” by Bright Eyes.
I discovered Bright Eyes first from a Mix CD a friend made for Valentine’s Day, and sent off to friends. It was the mid-aughts, around the time that many things in my life were coming to a crossroads. It was a coming-of-age time for me, just not the teenage kind most stories take place in.
“First Day Of My Life” was not the first Bright Eyes song that I heard, but it became one of my favorites once I started to dive into Conor Oberst’s albums, and songs.
“Remember the time you drove all night,
just to meet me in the morning?
And I thought it was strange,
you said everything changed,
you felt as if you’d just woke up.”
“First Day Of My Life” is track six on Bright Eyes 2005 album, I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning, which is my favorite album of Bright Eyes/Conor Oberst – at least if you asked me to pick today.
The music video is one of my favorites. So heartfelt and honest. A perfect fit for one of my favorite love songs. What I didn’t know until today was that John Cameron Mitchell directed it. Mitchell is best known as playing the title character in the film Hedwig And The Angry Inch. I’ve been enjoying him recently on all seasons of Hulu’s “Shrill”, staring Aidy Bryant.
The music video received special recognition at the 2006 GLAAD Awards for its positive representations. (source: Songfacts)
“First Day Of My Life” has always reminded me of the early days of being in love with someone. Those days when it first begins, when it feels like the best thing ever, and like nothings ever been this good before. Those feelings, though often fleeting, can feel almost religious. Like being born again into love.
“So, if you wanna be with me,
with these things there’s no telling
we just have to wait and see.
But I’d rather be working for a paycheck,
than waiting to win the lottery.”
Although no matter how miraculous and/or religious those feelings are at the beginning, this song also reminds me that love is work. The lyrics above are an example of what I mean. Love isn’t a lottery win, even if it may feel like it – at first. It is something you have to work at. It’s your day job (and night job). It isn’t just something that falls into your lap and then stays in its perfect, pristine, “just out of the package” newness forever. No. It needs tending, caring for, attention, patience, time, and a lot of forgiveness. But, if the love is good, healthy, not toxic, or temporary, the work is worth it. Love-work can be one of the best parts of being alive.
Conor Oberst has described “First Day Of My Life” as being about “waking up from a long nightmare.” (source: Songfacts)
Perhaps that’s part of it, too. Part of that rebirth feeling. Love feeling like just waking up, or finally waking up.
The album title, I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning, that “First Day Of My Life” is on also suggests just waking up. I know the album, and all the songs, very well, and I can say with much certainty that not all the songs fit into the theme of waking from a nightmare. The first track, for instance, is pretty nightmarish in its sung-description of a plane crash (track 1 – “At the Bottom of Everything”).
So, perhaps the album is about waking up in different ways. Waking up to the realization of death, waking up from a nightmare, waking up to love, etc.
“First Day Of My Life” features Conor Oberst on voice, guitar, keyboards and piano. He is also the songwriter and producer. Jesse Harris is also on the song, on guitar. He’s worked with many other singer-songwriters, besides Conor, including Norah Jones, Madeleine Peyroux, and Lizz Wright. Tim Lutzel also plays on the track, on bass.