Holocene – Bon Iver

Watch/listen here:

I first heard this band back when their first album was released. The song was For Emma. There is just something about Justin Vernon’s voice that has such a haunting and beautiful sense about it. And let’s face it, the man can write a lyric with the best of them.

Lyrics here, more below:
Someway baby, it’s part of me
Apart from me
You’re laying waste to Halloween

You fucked it friend
It’s on its head
It struck the street
You’re in Milwaukee, off your feet

And at once I knew
I was not magnificent
Straight 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
So 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 know it
My memory

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

So I think we could all forgive ourselves for being a little confused by the title. Did he make that up? And being me, I thought I’d better check. Turns out it is a word. It has a basic definition of ‘recent’ but actually defines the most recent epoch that came after the Pleistocene era. Basically the most recent 10,000 years. As I gave this song several listens and before I looked that up I kind of wondered if it was some sort of play on plasticine or kerosene.

I tend to spend time with songs before I start analyzing them I look for whatever base feeling it gives. What my first gut impressions are. I went through a series of thoughts as I listened to it on different occasions. First I thought it was a lament and a bit of anger at a former lover (also where I thought the play on plasticine – as in ‘hollow plastic’ to describer her). Then I started to wonder if it was losing someone in a messy car crash (thus the kerosene).

That last idea has stuck with me. Standing on the side of the road, staring off into the icy fields nearby. Car turned over, brother dead and whoever was driving becoming both the focus and the force of the pain. As I listen to him sing, I can feel the sting of it in his voice.

Now I know the meaning of some songs is obvious and follows some straight lines. The best songs for me are the ones where it sits in a cloud and comes clear with your own thoughts and sometimes your own experiences. This song is one of those. If anyone wants to share their thoughts on this, please do. I love hearing how the stories of a song unfold for different people.

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