Vinyl&Wine 6: Bright Eyes + Bastide Miraflores

I love great storytellers. One of the most important aspects of the life of a folk artist, or even some singer songwriters, is the little stress put into the standard corporate structure of song. There is a standard format to making a hit song complete with rhyming verses and chorus, produced and compressed down for maximum volume and impact. The heavy hitter producers behind all your favorite teen pop sensations do this very well. The folk artist doesn’t necessarily shun the standard song format, but their focus is on the lyrics, story, and message. I remember when I was first introduced to the album LIFTED or the story is in the soil, so keep your ear to the ground by Bright Eye from Omaha, Nebraska. It was 2002 when I first heard this album and I have to admit, I wasn’t sold at first due to the raw and unkempt production quality. Conor Oberst is the charmingly tortured soul behind Bright Eyes. I was used to the overproduced sound corporate record companies and radio station would spit out as if they were on an assembly line. LIFTED turned out to be an orchestrated piece of genius by Oberst. The album is heard as quite personal and political for Oberst. The songs on the album range some Oberst and his acoustic guitar to a full 13 piece unusual orchestra made of up of heavy amounts of stringed instruments and horns.

I saw Bright Eyes tour this album that year in Nashville with M. Ward, and The Bruces at a small theater. I cannot remember the name of the theater, but it looked like it had been around for 50+ years and it only held about 250 people. The show was general admission and seemed to be over sold with Bright Eyes admirers sitting in front of the stage and flooding the isles between seats. It was a fire marshal nightmare. Good thing there were no pyrotechnics set up. Even if they wanted to, they couldn’t because the amount of music equipment, chairs, microphones, and people; the stage was already overflowing.  When Bright Eyes finally took the stage, Oberst came out with a glass of wine and a bottle to go along with it. He set it down next to the base of the mic stand and the 15 member band began to play. The crowd began to cheer loudly every time Oberst took a sip of wine. At one point, while the crowd was cheering, he laughed and said, “No, you really should be booing me every time I drink.” On cue, the crowd did so, it was pretty funny. The stage was dressed in red curtains from side to side, and front to back and it made for the evening to turn into a truly surreal event.  Every time I listen to the double vinyl, I am drawn to red wine, no matter what time of year, no matter who is with me. It takes me back to that surreal night in Nashville.  

The double vinyl LIFTED is rich with heart, creativity, and rooted in story. For me, the heartier the red, the better, and one of the best pairings I have found is a bottle of Bastide Miraflores Syrah & Vielles Vignes De Grenache Cotes Castalanes. I absolutely adore this wine. It is rich, extremely balanced and fairly inexpensive. Syrah to me is a brooding; sometimes misunderstand soul of a grape. It can sometimes be too intense on its own for some people, but when accompanied with other grapes like Grenache that adds the ripe fruit and acidy, it is easier to swallow.  I feel Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes may have that same effect on people. Solo and raw, he may be too intense, but with a large like on the album LIFTED, his stories truly shine through. This southern French red is truly amazing and incredibly balanced. If you ever fall into a mood where you just need to be transported into a foreign land, or altered state of mind. Find this bottle and find this vinyl, sit back and listen to Oberst lyrics and listen to his stories. Read one of them below. 

Bright Eyes – Bowl of Oranges 

The rain, it started tapping on the window near my bed. There was a loophole in my dreaming,
so I got out of it. And to my surprise my eyes were wide and already open.
Just my nightstand and my dresser where those nightmares had just been.
So I dressed myself and left then, out into the gray streets.
But everything seemed different and completely new to me.
The sky, the trees, houses, buildings, even my own body.
And each person I encountered, I couldn't wait to meet.
I came upon a doctor who appeared in quite poor health.
I said "{I am terribly sorry but} there is nothing I can do for you
{that} you can't do for yourself."
He said "Oh yes you can. Just hold my hand. I think that would help."
So I sat with him a while and then I asked him how he felt.
He said, "I think I'm cured. No, in fact, I'm sure.
Thank you Stranger, for your therapeutic smile."
So that is how I learned the lesson that everyone is alone.
And your eyes must do some raining if you are ever going to grow.
But when crying don't help and you can't compose yourself.
It is best to compose a poem, an honest verse of longing or simple song of hope.
That is why I'm singing...
Baby don't worry cause now I got your back. And every time you feel like crying,
I'm gonna try and make you laugh. And if I can't, if it just hurts too bad,
then we will wait for it to pass and I will keep you company
through those days so long and black.
And we'll keep working on the problem we know we'll never solve 
Of Love's uneven remainders, our lives are fractions of a whole.
But if the world could remain within a frame like a painting on a wall.
Then I think we would see the beauty.
Then we would stand staring in awe at our still lives posed like a bowl of oranges,
like a story told by the fault lines and the soil.

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This video is NOT from LIFTED, but it is a good one that I like. Enjoy.