In the vast sea that is mainstream music, some albums are just a drop in the bucket, made to make a quick couple of bucks. I'm thinking of anything Owl City did post-Fireflies, most Justin Beiber songs, and kinda any song by Adele (sorry Grammy committee. But I mean..."I'll set fire to the rain"? What does that even mean?!). And then there are albums that actually try to change how we listen to music--albums that are the moon changing the tide and carbon emissions melting icebergs and raising sea levels. "For Emma, Forever Ago" is that kind of album.
First, there's the lyricism in the title: "For Emma, Forever Ago"--the parallel between "For Emma" and "Forever" as if they're synonymous, the breakdown and loss when the parellel turns into "Ago," the hopeful promise when you stick that "ago" with "forever"... This alone should win anyone over to at least a good-hearted listen.
And what do you find then? Melodies that cascade over each other and choruses that echo and timber and rush.
Please listen to it from start to finish.
Please turn the lights out and lay spread eagle on the floor.
Please open a window and let the moonlight or the streetlight fall through the blinds and make stripes on the carpet.
And of this week, when Bon Iver came to town, I can say only that the audience was a lightshow gallery of iPhone screens and camera LCDs, that the Red Butte breeze pushed the seaweed-curtains and his Bon Iver hair like he was sailing headlong into a storm, crying, "Who will love you?", which he answered again and again: "Thank you. I love you all."
He played the nighttime into "Michicant", and by the time the song was over, the stars were out.