There’s a new Bon Iver video out, and it’s story is – quite frankly – inspiring. First, I think I should note that my love for all things Justin Vernon (aka Bon Iver) related is no secret. The guy’s voice, phrasing, and touching lyrics were some of the best that I heard in 2007. So it was with much excitement that I heard about a new video being released, for the outstanding song, “The Wolves (Act I & II). What I wasn’t prepared for, however, was the backstory to it.
The video for the song (which can be found on the album, “For Emma, Forever Ago
This is by any description, a project that almost never happened. Rushing to get to Wisconsin for fresh snows and still frozen air, Director Matt Amato arrived in Eau Claire, hometown of Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, in late January. In the midst of warming up after a long journey and excitedly telling Justin about all the projects he had on the horizon, Matt received a phone call. One of his best friends had suddenly and tragically passed away. All logic and reason were thrown out. Nobody knew what to do. Matt didn’t know whether to stay or go, or how he would even manage to get back to the airport in his state of shock. Justin just tried to stay calm. Between a flurry of phone calls and attempting to contact some of Matt’s family to accompany him home, night fell. Almost by default, Matt remained in Eau Claire in the company of his newest acquaintance. Something about it was safe, and that was enough. The next morning, Matt read the lyrics to “The Wolves” and felt as if those were the exact words he needed to hear from his departed friend. That pretty much sealed it. Matt would stay and work, even as the thought of making a video became the last thing on their minds. They built a bonfire and just let it burn all day and into the night, and Matt filmed. The weight of the circumstances propelled the collaboration to a place these sort of projects don’t often go. The cathartic spirit of Bon Iver’s music had found its kindred spirit in imagery.
Now, let me be clear here: the video itself is amazing, and would stand as a great piece on it’s own, regardless of the story behind it’s creation. That said, the history behind it communicates the power that Bon Iver’s music has; it truly is a cathartic experience, and one that becomes shockingly personal to each person who listens to it.
The songs may become a different experience in your head than it is in mine, but to each person who hears it, it’s a unique, beautiful, fragile – and still, conversely – strong, masterpiece.
It’s music. And it’s beautiful.
Below the video, and below that, the song in audio format.
Listen. Love. Support. And stay strong.