“My grandpa was a pediatrician, and for years his name was in the phone book,” Oberst says, reaching down from the couch to pet one of his dogs.
“His phone would ring all the time at one in the morning. ’ ” The attention could, and did, take more sinister turns.
But until Oberst crash-landed here late last year, at the end of an emotional and physical tailspin that began in late 2013, when a fan falsely accused him of rape, culminating in his being hospitalized, he hadn’t lived full time in Nebraska since his early 20s.
He hasn’t made an album like Ruminations since then, either.
In his denim vest, black jeans, and boots, mirrored Wayfarers hanging from the neck of his T-shirt, Oberst looks like an older but not particularly grown-up version of the sensitive boy wonder he was when he first emerged from the heartland a decade and a half ago, a persona subsequently name-checked in Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom as shorthand for privileged 21st-century idealism.