I am chipping away at a series here called "The Hundred Greatest Albums of All Time" with each of the albums covered being individually the single greatest album of all time, irrespective of the fact that there are 99 other ones.
(And probably more).
The greatest album of all time is For Emma, Forever Ago by Bon Iver.
But I'm sorry to have to tell you that today's selection is a bit of a bait and switch.
Allow me to explain.
Periodically I and my brain become completely obsessed with a song. All I really want to do is listen to that song. I play the song for other people. Sometimes I have even written about the song here; for instance once I covered my obsession with The Grateful Dead's Black Peter. But it has happened to me countless times with, just off the top of my head:
Cortez the Killer by Neil Young
Wing by Patti Smith
Delia as done by Bob Dylan
River by Joni Mitchell
Ruby My Dear (mysteriously a version by) Bud Powell
Ball and Biscuit by The White Stripes
If I listed them all, we could be here all day.
I guess the point is that it happens a lot.
It is happening right now.
And the song is
Oh I love this song.
I'm listening to it now.
And now I'm listening to it again.
I can't write very well when I'm listening to music to let's just wait for a second.
This song doesn't have an album yet. I guess it's supposedly coming eventually? Fortunately 13 years ago Bon Iver made the greatest album of all time, For Emma, Forever Ago. At some point it was bound to get its official clerkmanifesto 100 greatest album of all time blog post, so why not now, when we can deftly sneak in A.U.A.T.C.?
Which we have done.
When For Emma came out it seemed like there was a mythology with it. Honestly I don't know how much was purely in my imagination, how much was swirling, possibly nonsensical rumor, or if any of it was remotely real.
It went something like this:
Bon Iver was some guy who holed up in a cabin deep in the Wisconsin woods. He had a ton of strange recording equipment in his tiny rustic wooden cabin. He layered tracks heavily and overdubbed wildly with a magician's touch, tempered by isolation and wilderness, and produced, from out of nowhere, the greatest album of the day.
I wasn't too invested in that interpretation. I just love the album. All that.. stuff... doesn't matter. But it was there.
Nevertheless, as is my custom, I went out to get you a YouTube link to one of the songs from the album. I chose, almost randomly, Flume. It's a beautiful example/introduction, though I suppose anything I chose would have worked perfectly. But then I saw something about Bon Iver playing Flume in a "Pocket Party" in Paris. So I watched it.
To see it all done so simply only deepened my astonishment.
I listened to Flume four times in preparing these brief notes and links, stunned, riveted and amazed each time. It's gorgeous, powerful music.
Then I had to do some dishes. So I went to the sink and found myself singing: