Justin Vernon of Bon Iver performed for an NPR recording recently, and as usual, he surprised the crowd with a stripped down version of the controversial closing track on his latest album, Bon Iver. Typically he performs a cover at live recordings, but perhaps Vernon felt he had something to prove about this song that got knocked for its 80′s sound that didn’t match the rest of the album.
Hearing this version almost makes me cry. The beautiful piano playing throughout the song reminds me of being home at Christmastime. The once-upbeat track suddenly becomes nostalgic and almost too close to home for me to keep my emotions in line. It’s like a soundtrack to my every day struggles without my Dad in my everyday life. When I close my eyes, I see images of our past together. I see my Dad with his face covered in shaving cream, pretending to be Santa Claus, ‘Ho-Ho-Ho-ing’ to his little girl in a red jumper and matching bow in her hair. I see him sitting on a bench facing a beautiful scenery, taking the time to soak in his surroundings and put them on paper with his watercolor set. I see my Dad climbing to the top of the ladder to place the star atop the Christmas tree. I smell the coffee that was already brewing as I crawled out of bed in the morning to put my uniform on for school. I hear the creaks of his desk chair in his office that he spent countless hours working in. I see my Dad standing at the marimba, happily percussing on the instrument oft-unknown to the general public. I hear my Dad whispering to me that he loves me, and though he isn’t right there, he’s everywhere.
This has been a long journey, but coming across songs like these brings realizations to mind; as Justin sings, “I aint livin in the dark no more.” I don’t know many of you, though somehow I feel we know each other. I put a lot of myself and my emotions on the table, but I think it mirrors what artists do every day by releasing songs like this. Justin Vernon is known for his ability to pour his whole heart into a song, which is what caught my attention first when I heard his music, so I appreciate that it’s not only good listening, but it’s enabling me to let out my thoughts and emotions as well. Thank you guys for listening, too. I apologize for this post being one day late, but when I heard the song, I knew I had something meaningful to say, so damn the day, this is straight talk.