I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning

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I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning
Studio album by Bright Eyes
Released January 25, 2005
Recorded February 2004 in Presto! Recording Studios, Lincoln, Nebraska
Genre Indie folk
Length 45:41
Label Saddle Creek LBJ-72
Producer Mike Mogis
Bright Eyes chronology
A Christmas Album
I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning
Digital Ash in a Digital Urn

I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning is one of two Bright Eyes albums (along with Digital Ash in a Digital Urn) released on January 25, 2005, by Saddle Creek Records.


The music video for "First Day of My Life" was directed by John Cameron Mitchell.

This was the first Bright Eyes album to feature Nate Walcott, who is now a permanent member of the band.

"Road to Joy" contains an interpolation of Beethoven's "Ode to Joy". The title of the album is taken from a lyric in this song.

They achieved success in the charts when the singles "Lua" and "First Day of My Life" took the top two positions in the Billboard Hot Singles Sales chart in 2004. In 2005, the band set off on a two-part world tour to promote the album along with Digital Ash in a Digital Urn, with the first half of the tour centring around the folk-influenced first album, and the latter half featuring the more electronic second album. Both records made it into the Top 20 of the Billboard album charts, with I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning peaking at number 10 on the Billboard 200 chart and at number 2 on the Billboard independent albums chart.[1] The tour was captured on the album Motion Sickness, released later in the year. The song Lua has also featured in the 2015 Square Enix game, Life is Strange.

Social commentary[edit]

Like the two Bright Eyes albums before it, I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning opens with a spoken recording, this time by Conor Oberst himself. The monologue is a short story about two strangers on an airplane that is about to fall into the ocean. Nearing the crash, one of the passengers begins to sing, "At the Bottom of Everything," the opening song of the album. The simple, four-chord folk song is one of Oberst's trademark sarcastic social commentaries on American ideals: "We must memorize nine numbers and deny we have a soul. And in this endless race for property and privilege to be won, we must run..."

This song made its television debut on the April 30, 2004 episode of Late Late Show. The short story was replaced with a dedication to the Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and the President of the United States, George W. Bush. "Two men I admire a lot," declared Oberst, "for their biceps and for their creepy, fascist agendas," after which Conor counted the song in "1, 2, 666." The conclusion of the story during the bridge was replaced by Oberst shouting "M. Ward for president!"

A music video directed by Cat Solen and starring Evan Rachel Wood and Terence Stamp was later made for the song, based on the story in its introduction, which remained intact.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 85/100[2]
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 2/5 stars[3]
Drowned in Sound 10/10[4]
Entertainment Weekly B[5]
Los Angeles Times 4/4 stars[6]
NME 8/10[7]
Pitchfork Media 8.7/10[8]
Q 5/5 stars[9]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars[10]
Spin A−[11]
The Village Voice A–[12]

I'm Wide Awake It's Morning received positive reviews from music critics. At Metacritic, the album received an average score of 85 out of 100, based on 33 reviews, which indicates "universal acclaim."[2] Los Angeles Times describes it as "An album with the simmering glow of a masterpiece."[2] Drowned in Sound critic Sean Adams called the album a "thing of awe", praising the lyrics and "calculated attention to detail".[4] Pitchfork Media's Chris Dahlen gave the album 8.7 out of 10 and states "I'm Wide Awake weaves the personal and the political more fluidly than most singers even care to try, and the consummate tunefulness just strengthens those moments where he pinches a nerve."[8]

However, these opinions were not quite unanimous. Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic criticized Oberst's "heavy-handed pretension in the words and [...] affectedness in his delivery," calling the album proof that "instead of reaching musical maturity, he's wallowing in a perpetual adolescence."[3]

End-of-year rankings[edit]

The album was ranked on several lists for best albums released during the year 2005.

Critic/publication Rank
Amazon.com Editor's Picks[13] 79
Blender[14] 4
Metacritic[15] 17
Planet Sound 1
Q[16] 5
Rolling Stone[17] 8
Spin[18] 21
Time[19] 10

It was also ranked at number 50 on Rolling Stone list of "Top 100 Albums of the Decade"[20] and at number 31 on NME's "Top 100 Greatest Albums of the Decade".[21]

Track listing[edit]

All songs by Conor Oberst.

  1. "At the Bottom of Everything" – 4:34
  2. "We Are Nowhere and It's Now" – 4:12
  3. "Old Soul Song (For the New World Order)" – 4:29
  4. "Lua" – 4:31
  5. "Train Under Water" – 6:05
  6. "First Day of My Life" – 3:08
  7. "Another Travelin' Song" – 4:16
  8. "Land Locked Blues" – 5:47
  9. "Poison Oak" – 4:39
  10. "Road to Joy" – 3:54


I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning and Digital Ash in a Digital Urn were the first Bright Eyes albums on which Conor Oberst, Mike Mogis, and Nate Walcott became the three permanent members of Bright Eyes.


  1. ^ "Bright Eyes Album and Song Chart History". Billboard chart history for Bright Eyes. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved on March 27, 2012.
  2. ^ a b c "Reviews for I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning by Bright Eyes". Metacritic. Retrieved March 27, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "I'm Wide Awake It's Morning – Bright Eyes". AllMusic. Retrieved March 27, 2012. 
  4. ^ a b Adams, Sean (January 23, 2005). "Album Review: Bright Eyes – I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning". Drowned in Sound. Retrieved March 27, 2012. 
  5. ^ Browne, David (January 31, 2005). "I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved October 17, 2015. 
  6. ^ Hilburn, Robert (January 9, 2005). "With all senses awakened". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 17, 2015. 
  7. ^ "I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning". NME: 49. January 22, 2005. 
  8. ^ a b Dahlen, Chris (January 23, 2005). "Bright Eyes: I'm Wide Awake It's Morning". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved March 27, 2012. 
  9. ^ "I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning". Q (222): 129. January 2005. 
  10. ^ Sheffield, Rob (January 28, 2005). "Bright Eyes: I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning". Rolling Stone. Retrieved March 27, 2012. 
  11. ^ Caramanica, Jon (February 2005). "Split Myself in Two". Spin 21 (2): 85–86. Retrieved October 17, 2015. 
  12. ^ Christgau, Robert (June 27, 2005). "Consumer Guide: Sustenance Enough?". The Village Voice. Retrieved March 27, 2012. 
  13. ^ "Top 100 Editors' Picks". Amazon.com. 2005. Retrieved March 27, 2012. 
  14. ^ "Top 50 Albums of 2005". Blender. 2005. 
  15. ^ "Album Releases by Score". Metacritic. 2005. Retrieved March 27, 2012. 
  16. ^ "Q magazine's top records of 2005". Evening Standard. December 1, 2005. Retrieved March 27, 2012. 
  17. ^ The Top 50 Records of 2005. Rolling Stone. 2005.
  18. ^ Spin staff (December 31, 2005). "The 40 Best Albums of 2005". Spin. Retrieved March 27, 2012. 
  19. ^ Tyrangiel, Josh (December 16, 2005). "Best of 2005: Music". Time. Retrieved March 27, 2012. 
  20. ^ "100 Best Albums of the ’00s". Rolling Stone. July 18, 2011. Archived from the original on March 27, 2012. Retrieved March 27, 2012. 
  21. ^ "The Top 100 Greatest Albums of the Decade". NME. November 2009. Retrieved March 27, 2012.