Tuesday, September 22, 2020

100 Greatest albums: For Emma, Forever Ago

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 

Auatc (Ate up all their cake) by Bon Iver 

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. 

And listen.

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:

Well, you're up all night

And your head's down low

If you can see your own kite

Shed a little light on it...

No comments:

Post a Comment

If you were wondering, yes, you should comment. Not only does it remind me that I must write in intelligible English because someone is actually reading what I write, but it is also a pleasure for me since I am interested in anything you have to say.

I respond to pretty much every comment. It's like a free personalized blog post!

One last detail: If you are commenting on a post more than two weeks old I have to go in and approve it. It's sort of a spam protection device. Also, rarely, a comment will go to spam on its own. Give either of those a day or two and your comment will show up on the blog.