Thursday, June 23, 2011

If Bon Iver, Bon Iver is a place then I'm not there yet

In some interview I heard with Justin vernon he wanted the title of the new Bon Iver album to be Bon Iver, Bon Iver -- written like a city and a state -- rather than calling it a self titled album. He carries that metaphor over into the song names creating fictional places like Hinnom, TX and Lisbon, OH. This metaphor work really well conceptually and is something I have never considered applying to music. Most artforms are actual physical places like sculptures, paintings, architecture. Other artforms create places like literature and poetry. Music would fall into that category. It creates a space you inhabit mentally.

As I make my way through multiple rounds of experiencing Bon Iver, Bon Iver, I am not sure I have arrived quite yet. Each listen, each song gets me a little closer.

At first, I'm not sure where I am. I'm in Perth. It feels familiar, like I've been there before but it has a newness to it. In Minnesota, WI can feel the large swaths of farmland giving way to smaller plots of land and small homesteads. see farmland giving way to the outskirts of town. Around Holocene, the city lights are glowing just over the horizon.

At this point I think I am getting closer, but the problem is I just don't know how to get there. There is no beaten path to Bon Iver, Bon Iver. There are trail markers. And I am alone on this path, forced to make my way on my own -- if I so chose. I climb the Towers to try and get my bearings. From up here it looks so close. I can feel its warmth.

I climb down and press on. Once inside Michicant, I start to get lost. Not in a bad way. More like the way Ulysses, Pete and Delmar lose their way when they come across the sirens singing in the river. I may have even slipped into a dream, because Hinnom, TX feels like I waking up and trying to shake the dreams out of my head.

Now I'm in Wash. It definitely feels like a state but I think its more of a temporary state, like I'm cleaning up in preparation for something bigger. The piano chords is the water dripping in the background and the violin is the soft towel around my shoulders. Wash. gives way to Calgary. I don't know when it happened but I find myself indoors now. The room is big but its mostly empty. I wander, exploring. Looking behind columns, peeking into doorways. I am slowly drawn down a corridor that is getting brighter and brighter, and more narrow. Finally I step through into a large green field. My shoes are gone from Wash. and I can feel the grass. Is this Bon Iver, Bon Iver? No, its Lisbon, OH. Wondering if I had arrived seems to have disoriented me.

By now I am in Beth/Rest. It doesn't feel like a destination. Its more of an explanation. I long to be somewhere else, but Perth feels so far away as does Lisbon, OH. I am in Beth/Rest. I am nowhere else. I can be nowhere else. I wait. I don't know when I am, if I'm in the past or the future. But I am getting a better sense of where I am. I am in Beth/Rest.

I come back around to the beginning, to Perth. The explanation seems clear now. I was in Bon Iver, Bon Iver the entire time.

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