Bright Eyes: I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning, a Companion EP

This companion EP to I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning, a Companion is one of a series of EPs released as part of a Bright Eyes re-issue campaign, and features new recordings of songs from its associated original album.

I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning (original album): facts and stats

According to band leader Coner Oberst, “everything happened with Wide Awake and Digital Ash.” These two albums came out “simultaneously” on 25 January 2005 and is either their sixth or seventh studio album, depending which came first (the chicken or the egg). Jim James (My Morning Jacket) and Emmylou Harris made guest appearances on I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning.

The most interesting edition of this release in 2005 was the Japanese CD issued by Sideout Records – it came with an additional four track CD EP (“Lua”, “Well Whiskey”, “I Woke Up With This Song In My Head this Morning” and “True Blue”). The album was re-released in 2009 and 2016.

This was the first Bright Eyes album to feature Nate Walcott, now a permanent member of the band (he adds trumpet on the new companion version of “First Day of My Life”).

I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning was well received by the critics. NME said it was a “remarkable album… like an Americana ‘OK Computer” (January 2005). Q Magazine considered it the “finest alt-country album this side of Gram Parsons” (January 2005); Mojo Magazine said it was “magic…its rhapsodies present a portrait of an artist at an early height of his powers” (February 2005).

Companion EP

The companion EP has new recordings of album tracks “Old Soul Song (for the New World Order)“, “First Day of My Life”, “We Are Nowhere and It’s Now”, “Road to Joy”  and “Land Locked Blues” plus a cover of Townes Van Zandt’s “Fare Thee Well, Miss Carousel”.

Oberst says (in relation to the companion EP) that “the analogue sweetness of the Wide Awake songs have been put through a detached nihilism filter”; in practice this means most of the original tracks are pushed from country into electronic. “We Are Nowhere and It’s Now” becomes dense and claustrophobic in their new settings; in its new modernist version, “Road to Joy” is more consistent in its raucousness, and the originally acoustic “Land Locked Blues” turns industrial with its new squall of sound. Gillian Welch appears on this latter track (Emmylou Harris sang on the original) and also on the charmingly light and fluffy cover of Townes Van Zandt’s “Fare Thee Well, Miss Carousel”.

Note: Companion EP available on opaque gold vinyl and download.

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Label: Dead Oceans
Release Date: 25 NOV 2022