Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon bids adieu… kind of

Fitting for a man who retreated to a secluded cabin in the woods of Wisconsin one winter to record his debut album, Justin Vernon is heading back into obscurity… at least for a while. On October 13th, he posted on his website that his show at The Riverside in San Francisco on the 11th was  “the last show in the foreseeable future.”

Bon Iver

Photo by Annah Legg

As Vernon (rather awkwardly) states in the post, “Wrapping up a meteor is a difficult proposition.” Indeed, the last couple of years have been a whirlwind for Bon Iver. The debut album, For Emma, Forever Ago, made quite a few top ten lists, including my own. Bon Iver is the epitome of a cold weather album. Though the Vernon’s falsetto and earnestness evoke warmth, there is also something desolate in it, something expansive and melancholic, that just begs to be played through the dark, cold months of winter.

<em>For Emma, Forever Ago</em> original art

For Emma, Forever Ago original art

Of course, Vernon still has his side project with Volcano Choir going… but Bon Iver seems to be on hiatus. And I’ve got to say, it would be really hard to follow up For Emma. Did anyone really listen to Blood Bank when it came out at the beginning of the year? I think everyone was still too busy playing “Skinny Love” on repeat.

Some things are just best left abruptly instead of being allowed to slowly and painfully fizzle out over time after lackaluster attempts to match former glory. I have to say that I for one think that maybe Vernon should just head back to the woods… at least until he’s ready to release something that will live up to For Emma, and that sure won’t be easy. Until then, you can stream his last show here for free.


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"He considered music a liberating force: it liberated him from loneliness, introversion, the dust of the library; it opened the door of his body and allowed his soul to step out into the world to make friends."

- Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being


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