Monday, February 23, 2009

Nine Questions for Justin Vernon about the woods, Bon Iver, and For Emma, Forever Ago

1. You have said that before moving to the cabin something “had gone wrong” with you and you were “on a path to nowhere.” So you left. You packed up and headed deep into the woods where you lived alone and, albeit unintentionally, made a beautiful album, For Emma, Forever Ago. Now that you’re back and touring as Bon Iver and being featured on TV and even putting out a new EP, how has it gone reconnecting with society after your time alone with no one and nothing but your thoughts?

2. What do you now care less about?

3. You have also been quoted as saying, “If you drown yourself long enough, you realize you are just running from some truth.” What truth was it that you confronted as you chopped wood?

4. Since you have mentioned that the song “Skinny Love” is, in a sense, directed at yourself, some lines such as, “Cut out all the ropes and let me fall,” “I told you to be patient / I told you to be kind,” as well as “Who will fight?” remind me of a scene in David Fincher’s film version of Fight Club in which Brad Pitt’s character burns Edward Norton’s character’s hand with lye. The point of this scene is that not until you hit rock bottom and lose everything will you ever truly be free, and only we can get ourselves to that point. Are you free?

5. Your album has a reverberant, plangent component to it, as if it was recorded in a cathedral or a canopied forest somewhere; that is, your voice floats around and echoes within the songs, giving the entire work a spiritual quality. I guess this really isn’t a question.

6. I find myself putting on For Emma, Forever Ago when it is cloudy and cold and rainy and really sort of depressing, especially when I want to be kicked in the ass to get going on being who I want to be. What do you think of this?

7. I have watched the several intimate performances you gave that were filmed by Vincent Moon and posted on La Blogotheque. You should do more things like that, don’t you think?

8. Do you want to have a pipe and talk about the recession? I would like that.

9. In the end, I keep coming back to the image and idea of you in the cabin: totally alone (except for the animals); hunting your own food; capturing your own heat; sleeping through the harsh winter nights; and then being prompted by something primordial inside of you to make this album, as if you had no choice. “It wasn’t planned,” you say. “The goal was to hibernate.” I mean, you really did it; you left everything behind and survived on your own for months in the woods. That’s an amazing feat in itself, and a gorgeous new album happened into existence, to boot. Why don’t more people do this?

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