Justin Vernon, the Genius Bon Iver

“…and at once I knew I was not magnificent.” – Bon Iver, Holocene 

 

I could sit for hours watching Bon Iver’s music videos, listening to his gloriously haunting voice. In 2008, Bon Iver (the name comes from the French term, bon hiver, meaning good winter) released his first album, For Emma, Forever AgoJohn Vernon, the face of Bon Iver, recorded his second, self-titled album three miles from his childhood home in Wisconsin in a veterinary clinic he and his brother transformed into a recording studio. Bon Iver, Bon Iver was released in 2011, and in 2012, Vernon won Best New Artist and his album, Best Alternative Music Album.

Before rising to prominence as Bon Iver, Justin Vernon founded the indie-rock bands Mount Vernon and DeYarmond Edison while in high school and college. And he hasn’t strayed from his rural Wisconsin roots, which is what I find so attracting. It’s captivating to watch a thick bearded man in a simple wool hat and worn-in flannel shirt singing so angelically and emotionally.

Bon Iver’s musical talents are vast; he contributed to two songs on Kanye West’s album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy – samples from Bon Iver’s song “Woods” open Kanye’s track “Lost in the World,” and his vocals are featured in “Monster.” Birdy, the 16 year old phenom, beautifully covers (among others) Bon Iver’s, “Skinny Love,” and DJs aspire to remix his masterpieces.

Kanye West (feat. Bon Iver) – Lost in the World

Bon Iver – Perth (The Polish Ambassador Remix)

Bon Iver – Skinny Love (Das Kapital Rerub)

Birdy – Skinny Love

But none of his songs sound as good recorded as they do live, which in my opinion is the most telling artistic attribute.

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