Music Video Relapse: "First Day of My Life" (2005) by Bright Eyes

Posted by Adam Fairholm on September 9, 2013 in Music Video Relapse

Staff Post


If there's one thing we don't really ever need to see more of in music videos, it's people listening to a song on headphones and reacting. Probably the most famous example of this is 2001's "Short Skirt/Long Jacket" by Cake, and there are many, many less well-known examples. It's a well-worn music video troupe at this point, and we wouldn't mind a bit if that jersey was retired.

That's not to say there aren't great music videos that use this concept outside of Cake's 2001 take on it. One video that also managed to take that concept and make a great music video is "First Day of My Life" by Bright Eyes, directed by John Cameron Mitchell.

The concept is that we have a variety of couples (and some single people) sitting on a couch listening to the song on headphones. There are a lot of different couples. We've got a couple with a small child, a few young couples, artsy couples, older couples, and several same sex and transgender couples. We even have a single woman who is pregnant, holding up the headphones to let her baby hear. There is also, of course, a dog.

One of the things I find compelling about this video is how much is communicated about a couple or a person by just looking at them for a few seconds or seeing them briefly interact. There are the obvious ones like the young, giddy couple that makes the heart shapes with their hands at the end of the video - it's not really tough to figure out what is going on there. But then there is the man that simply stares into the camera with a blank expression - we have very little clues as to what his reaction to what he's hearing is. The range of body language is pretty interesting, from couples who stare into each other's eyes to couples that sit and play with the headphone wires.

Another factor in this video is Conor Oberst is not really one to write a straight love song, and although I think many people would prefer this to be a straight love song, it has lines like "I'd rather be working for a paycheck than waiting to win the lottery". There are some uncomfortable sentiments for people to sit down and listen to, especially with another person. Most of this is sort of glossed over in the video, but it does make it a little bit uncomfortable at times.

Director John Cameron Mitchell put together an extremely interesting group of people and ended up with a pretty amazing music video. It may not be as funny as the guy in "Short Skirt/Long Jacket" that thinks the music stopped, but there is a dog with headphones on. We'll always have the dog with headphones on.

Adam Fairholm is the co-founder and lead developer of IMVDb. You can find him on twitter at @adamfairholm.

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