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Archive for the ‘Bon Iver’ Category

In the final days of 2011, which I spent enjoying time with family and friends in Vermont, I rediscovered some fantastic music that I did not adequately appreciate in the last six months. Music I struggled to put words to, felt pressured to love, and that I ultimately looked over in favor of my 2011 highlights. But in the spirit of the New Year—new attitudes, optimism and openness—I have given this artist and his album a second chance and stand corrected.

Bon Iver

My first Bon Iver experience was listening to Skinny Love on a friend’s iPod in February 2010 while driving through rural India. After four weeks living in the heart of Bangalore, overwhelmed daily by its smells and sounds, I felt a great relief leaving the city behind and driving into the rural countryside. With each kilometer further from the city, my whole body loosened and relaxed. Justin Vernon’s voice was the perfect soundtrack to that drive, facilitating my physical transformation.

My enjoyment of Skinny Love was organic and natural and unhindered by outside influences. Its pureness stands in stark contrast to my experience of Bon Iver’s 2011 self-titled album. It was stained by expectation and external pressure—by no one in particular; rather by the high praise I felt I needed to understand (I mean, it has earned four Grammy nominations) and reinforce. When the album did not live up to its hype, I rejected it.

Now, months later, I have returned to Bon Iver with a new ear and new attitude and with my “Best of” lists finalized and published. Vernon’s falsetto streamed through my headphones on a frigid winter morning as I glided through powder and over ice (yea, hasn’t been a great winter for skiers) down Stratton Mountain. It fueled and refreshed me. I embraced its expansive, unfamiliar sounds. I enjoyed it deeply and completely.

If I did it all over again, it may still not land on my Top Albums/Songs of 2011 list. But really, that’s irrelevant. I resolve to approach music with an open attitude, unhindered by expectations.

Happy New Year!

 

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