By Chris WhibbsIt took one song. Yes, "Flume,” the first song on Bon Iver’s debut album, For Emma, Forever Ago, was the one that made him run to a cabin in Wisconsin where even more gorgeous and fluttery indie-folk would be born. As lone member Justin Vernon recounts, "That track was actually recorded in North Carolina, like three days before, and that was the song that made me leave. I went straight up north to sort of hunker down for a few months.”Don’t make the leap to think this was part of a greater plan.
"Words like decision and intention aren’t words that float in my head because I just went,” Vernon explains. "I left North Carolina and went up there because I didn’t know where else to go and I knew that I wanted to be alone and I knew that I wanted to be where it was cold.”
This exile led to an intense period of experimentation, which explains why his debut is filled with unconventional song structures all accompanied by Vernon’s glorious falsetto voice. It’s that combination that has people entranced because not only is it unique and exciting, it also has the feel of a subtle exorcism.
Though that may be too extreme a description for Vernon, there definitely was some soul-searching. "I didn’t have anyone to answer to, I wasn’t in a band, and I didn’t even know I was making a record,” he says. "I was just messing around, trying to do something new because I’d sort of reached my wit’s end on a lot of levels, life-wise, right around that time. I was just scraping my subconscious trying to find some sort of flame in there and it really worked for me to uncover some of that stuff.”