I don’t know where to start on this song and this band. I’m sure Bon Iver will appear many times on this blog, so I shouldn’t start waxing too poetic about Justin Vernon and company. 22, A Million quickly became my favorite Bon Iver album upon release last year and may just be one of my favorite albums in general.
I will say this about Justin Vernon: his output is always exactly what I want to hear, exactly when I want to hear it. I don’t know if it’s because we’re the same age and have similar tastes in music—if I had more musical talent maybe I’d be friends with Kanye—or if it’s something more esoteric like feeling out of time and place with the generations surrounding us, searching for answers in a society that wants nothing to do with non-participants. Nevertheless, I find his music all-consuming. He’s one of a rare list of artists also including The Books and Dirty Projectors, among others, who define what I want all music to sound like. The ridiculous syntax in the titles can go, however. (It’s been driving me crazy having to look at double quotation marks inside double quotations marks on this post title).
I should also mention the samples on this song. I woke up with the Lonnie Holley “all my goodness” sample repeating in my head. This song contains at least five samples that I can identify and all of the songs are great in their own right. “It’s Your Thing” by Cold Grits is sampled in a lot of hip-hop songs, most notably by the aforementioned Mr. West on several of his songs. Despite 17 million views, I’d never heard of Paolo Nutini or the excellent “Iron Sky”; the vocal sample plays heavily into the lyrics of this song and the original is a beautifully sung performance. I love the chant-like harmonies in Jim Ed Brown’s “Morning”, which Vernon borrowed for the opening sample. Sharon Van Etten, beloved by all, appears in the closing minute of “33 “God”” (ugh) via the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it snippet of vocal crescendos in the waning seconds of her “DsharpG”.
“Well, I better fold my clothes.”