Bon Iver: Holocene

On Bon Iver’s new album, lyrics are part of the ethereal soundscape.  Justin Vernon, aka Bon Iver, seems to be following in the footsteps of Sigur Rós, the Icelandic post-rock band who focus on the overall sound to the point where they have developed an unintelligible language, Vonlenska (which translates as Hopelandic) that you are quite sure you understand. Bon Iver’s ambient lyrics alternate between being very concrete and completely elusive. Meanings emerge as you waft in and out of daydreams. Expressing feelings in lyrics can be so cliché, as if everything that needs saying has been said again and again. This really opens things up. As Victor Hugo wrote, “Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and cannot remain silent”.
Don’t you just love this little Viking?

“Someway, baby, it’s part of me, apart from me”
You’re laying waste to Halloween
You fucked it friend, it’s on it’s head, it struck the street
You’re in Milwaukee, off your feet

And at once I knew I was not magnificent
Strayed above the highway aisle
(Jagged vacance, thick with ice)
And I could see for miles, miles, miles

3rd and Lake it burnt away, the hallway
Was where we learned to celebrate
Automatic bought the years you’d talk for me
That night you played me ‘Lip Parade’
Not the needle, nor the thread, the lost decree
Saying nothing, that’s enough for me

And at once I knew I was not magnificent
Hulled far from the highway aisle
(Jagged vacance, thick with ice)
And I could see for miles, miles, miles

Christmas night, it clutched the light, the hallow bright
Above my brother, I and tangled spines
We smoked the screen to make it what it was to be
Now to know it in my memory

And at once I knew I was not magnificent
High above the highway aisle
(Jagged vacance, thick with ice)
But I could see for miles, miles, miles

“Holocene” by Justin Vernon
Lyrics © CHRYSALIS MUSIC OBO APRIL BASE PUBLISHING

song week :-) learning english with songwriters

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Anne

Teaching English for business communication skills, writing online for learners, translating, sailing whenever I can, from Washington, D.C.

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