Zachary Oberzan
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Zachary Oberzan


Band Alternative Avant-garde


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This band has not uploaded any videos


The best kept secret in music


"The Leonard Cohen Files"

"Unique perspectives encased in intriguing, intense, and highly-imaginative lyrics." - Elizabeth Bacon-Smith

"The New York Times"

"Terrific moments from Zachary Oberzan...[he] stands out with a sensitive performance...his attempts to deal with his unhappiness are heartbreaking." - New York Times

"Richard Foreman"

"Desirably idiosyncratic and quirky--give it a listen." - Ontological-Hysteric Theater

"Charles L. Mee"

"I love these songs because they break my heart." - playwright & author

"FACE Magazine"

On Songs of Straw & Gold: "This CD turns out to be deeply compelling. By the time Zachary Oberzan actually invokes the name of one of his prime influences, Leonard Cohen, you would have figured it out even if he hadn't said it. For one thing, Oberzan's voice resonates, and not just sonically. For instance, The Dance Absurd is much more up than The Wearing of the Blue, yet you remember Oberzan's tunefully flat delivery first. On Your Folksinger he sounds as if he's about to cry on the opening line. ("You don't know what I've got.") For the first several lines of The Last Thing I Wanted he resembles a man who's just awakened. Then he takes command and makes you listen. Make no mistake, this is very much poetry-as-music, in the tradition of not only Cohen but Oberzan's other major influence, Paul Simon. For me, it's one of those that almost got away, a record to which diligent listening yields undeniable rewards." - Portland Phoenix

"Shake! Magazine"

"The slightly skewed but fascinating music of Zachary Oberzan bears traces of people like Leonard Cohen and Nick Drake, along with some English folk and pop overtones. Oberzan writes and sings with dramatic flair. His songs range from black humor to romanticism. The Mess I'm In is a stand out."
- Todd Serling, Nashville

"Music of the Midlands"

"Zachary Oberzan, who exhibits some English and Celtic folk influences, has his wonderful moments, especially on his evocative ballad-style love song, Amelia Earhart."

- Brian Hanrahan, UK

"The Beacon"

"...a much softer vocal style and the use of mouth harp give Oberzan a more individualistic feel...he manages to bury his music into the listener's head with the power of Nick Drake."
- MA College of Liberal Arts

"Rambles Cultural Arts"

"The CD is in a category of its own that is unlike anything I've ever heard. It's original. It's quirky, sometimes insultingly quirky...Zachary Oberzan has a distinct voice, with an edge and smoothness that is captivating. His music strongly touches on English pop-folk with a voodoo spell running in the background...There's good music and great sounds in The Beauty of Being Me and Peculiar Wedding...The songs are futile. The lyrics futile. He's got a great picture on the album liner." - Virginia MacIsaac


Athletes of Romance (How land? Is land? 2006)
Mighty Above All Things (Wild Oats 2003)
Songs of Straw & Gold (self-released 1999)
Amelia Earhart
Everybody's Got a Reason to Cry Tonight


Feeling a bit camera shy


"My work is an attempt to crystallize into snapshots the bizarre experience of being alive. Sentient life, after all, doesn't seem like the most natural state of things. I find comfort in articulating my bewilderment. Sometimes the articulation helps to make sense of things, or even better, mercifully relieves the need to make sense at all.
I'm primarily concerned with elemental themes, and attempt to express them in an elemental but illuminating fashion. I try to write for the long-ago dead and the far-off unborn, as well as my peers, because I believe one's work has to transcend one's little lifetime if it's going to shed any light on that lifetime, while one is living it. That's all I'm concerned with: light in this life. Immortality is for the birds.
And as they are all love songs, they are never really complete. An atheist by traditional definition, I am always looking for something higher than what surrounds me. I want to tap into that part of life, or that part of my brain, that is able to hover gracefully above the mess. Like the beautiful, immortal hummingbird.
I don't know what else to do with myself."

What will satisfy? The soul of the human being, self-aware and possessing an intellect, gets bored with itself. To exist is not enough. It is truly astounding to consider all the hoops humanity has put itself through in order to spice things up a little. A large percentage of humanity, praise be to them, has been able to fundamentally satisfy itself, by finding meaning in the course of life that society has come to build, replete with institutions that seemingly provide this meaning.
But what of the individual who, for whatever reason, is truly unsatisfied with these activities and explanations? Such a person has difficulty in living. For this rare type of individual appears to be the inheritor of Faust's soul, Hell-bent on satisfying this longing, because the alternative, the prospect of an unsatisfied life, is tantamount to imprisonment. Indeed, life itself my seem like an unending jail-break, a constant digging through the psyche in order to tunnel under its walls and resurface in a new, unbound and unimagined world. This monumental and often fatal struggle manifests itself in different activities and pursuits, but the common denominator of its practitioners is the exhaustive mental and physical rigor it requires. So, these individuals are athletes in sense, training and competing, primarily with themselves, in order to win the ultimate prize: satisfaction. Or in another word, happiness.
What is it exactly that is lacking in the lives of the athlete? A seemingly unattainable state of grace? Or simply a state of Not-Wanting? I do not know, but I believe it has something to do with Love. One might say it is Love itself that the athlete seeks. It is true that the athlete may have forms of love in her life, for she has not necessarily forsaken all human institutions (indeed, he may revel in them on his quest). However, there is an intangible incompleteness in these loves, and hence her struggle. It is also this crucial aspect and very fine line that separates the athletes from other individuals equally possessed, but unconnected to Love. Like Hitler.
A dictionary definition of the word romance is "a feeling of excitement and mystery associated with love" or "a quality or feeling of mystery, excitement, and remoteness from everyday life." It is this inscrutable mix of mystery, sexuality, pleasure, pain, absurdity, immediacy, and detachment that best describes the world of the athlete. So I coin the phrase "athlete of romance" to name that most peculiar of individuals.
The album Athletes of Romance attempts to sort through this world. It is, in a sense, one day in the life, or perhaps the whole course of that life, whichever seems to come first, of such a human. It is not so much a "concept" album, but rather, the threads of this world run through all of the songs, and bind them together. I discovered this after compiling all the work. I did not create the album to express this idea. Rather, I expressed many ideas, and discovered an underlying current which came to unify the pieces. It is the distilled essence of my experience that is this current. I do not know if I am an athlete of romance. But I feel as though I have spent a long time immersed in this world, as Thoreau was immersed in a world that called to him. Was he a true woodsman? Am I an athlete of romance? I do not know, but I suppose the main difference is, Thoreau wanted to be a woodsman. I don't want to be an athlete. I hope I am not one.
And while certainly greater minds, far more learned and articulate than mine, have wrestled with these metaphysical and existential quandaries, few have wrapped their conclusions in the poetic simplicity and sonorous mysticism of "People Like To Fuck." Give Athletes of Romance a listen. If nothing else, you can dance to it, and that counts for a