Thursday, July 16, 2009

Sky is womb and she's the moon

19 Bon Iver, ‘Flume’

I mentioned in my last posting on Jethro Tull that I love acoustic guitar and so I do. I won’t try to trace where this love came from. Oh, okay, I will. It may have been Lennon’s You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away which I heard way before I heard Dylan.

It may be the first Crosby Stills Nash album and Suite: Judy Blue Eyes. Steve Stills is a guitar god. I watched Déjà vu (the DVD) in great sadness recently. Steve looks bad and sounds bad, in contrast to Neil who looked and acted spry, and even, God forbid, in contrast to David Crosby. The Cros consumed industrial sized quantities of bad shit for decades and now…he looks better than Stills, and still sings harmony with Nash like an angel. But poor Stills is massively overweight and is slurry of speech. Sad. What happened to him?

It may be James Taylor that got me started, but I doubt it because I didn’t get into him until after I found his first album on Apple Records. Or it could be the Paul Kantner solo (haha) album Blows Against The Empire with it’s undercurrent of acoustic guitars on songs like Have You Seen The Stars Tonite played by every freaky guitarist in San Francisco?

Actually, now that I come to think of it, I think it was Paul McCartney of all people who got me started. Specifically some songs on The Beatles (aka The White Album) – Blackbird and Mother Nature’s Son and the ballad of Rocky Raccoon. Thanks Macca!

Ever since - I’ve stopped off at all of those destinations listed above and much more. It’s amazing how differently guitars sound in expert hands. Jorma Kaukonen, for instance, has a tone and style that is vastly different to Earl klugh, to Neil Young, to Bruce Cockburn, to Kurt Cobain, to…Bon Iver.

Bon Iver’s album For Emma, Forever Ago is a real treat. On one level, because all of the hype I read about it in Mojo is actually spot on. On another, it’s the kind of album that reminds me of why I love music in the first place – acoustic guitar, meaningful lyrics, great vocals, and inspiration to go with the craft.

The first track, Flume, is the most beautiful song I’ve heard in ages. It also makes my heart ache, and it sounds so effortless and simple but I bet it was a bastard to write and get right. Or maybe it was as natural as it sounds.

The elliptical style he writes in means the lyrics are open to a lot of interpretation but they sound absolutely right for the song. That's got to be a kind of genius. The music and lyrics match perfectly and this must have taken an age. The gaps in meaning within the lyric also point to careful thought and revision.

The opening line, ‘I am my mother’s only one, it’s enough’ is wide open to interpretation and that wide open space, once set up in this line, pervades the rest of the song and album. There is a depth here that is unusual in a pop song. As he says in the final song re:stacks, ‘it’s the sound of the unlocking and the lift away’. The unlocking began with Flume but it doesn’t end there. Via this unlocking, in the end he provides a depth that allows me to listen to the song, and album, multiple times and will still allow new thoughts, new revelations, new feelings for years to come. It’s a great song.

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