Bon Iver, Nature, and Wisconsin

In today’s music scene, how many songs can you find where you can feel the unity of “nature” and “sound”? Bon Iver’s music is in unmistakable harmony with nature.

The beginning of Bon Iver

Justin Vernon, a musician from Eau Claire, Wisconsin, USA. He started his music career as a student, and after playing in the bands’ Mount Vernon and DeYarmond Edition, Bon Iver was born in 2006 as a solo project of Justin Vernon.
(The name seems to come from the French word “Bon hiver” meaning “good winter”) Bon Iver started as a solo project and is now working as a band.


In 2007, Bon Iver’s debut album, “For Emma, Forever Ago”, became a worldwide sensation. At the time, Justin Vernon was suffering from a lung disease, the breakup of his previous band (DeYarmond Edition), and a breakup with his girlfriend. 

In the midst of all this, he returned to his hometown in Wisconsin and spent several months in his father’s cabin, immersed in making music. It is said that this work was completed amid his loneliness and isolation.

When I hear “For Emma, Forever Ago”, I remember “A Take Away Show” by La Blogotheque in France. In the video, Bon Iver appears and plays a few songs from the album. The beautiful falsetto voices of Justin Vernon, Sean Carey, and others that I saw at that time were shocking.
(If you search the internet for “A Take Away Show Bon Iver”, you can see the official La Blogotheque video on YouTube.)

Live Video from Sydney Opera House

It was their second album “Bon Iver, Bon Iver” released in 2011, which won two Grammy Awards. All of Bon Iver’s performances and music videos that can be seen on the video are amazing, and I can’t give them an edge, but the video of their performance at the Sydney Opera House in Australia is a highlight.


The spatiality of the opera house, the atmosphere of the place, and the songs all matched each other, making it a superb live performance to watch on video. I can imagine that it must have been a great time for those who were there. I’m jealous of those who were able to go to the Sydney concert.
(Search for “bon iver sydney opera house” to see the official opera house video on YouTube)

Collaborations and Music Projects

In addition to his work with Bon Iver, Justin Vernon has been involved in a variety of musical projects and collaborations with artists from different genres. He has collaborated with Kanye West and James Blake, among others, and seems to be expanding and pushing the scope of his sound to another level and phase since his first album.

There is also a band with Aaron Dessner of The National, BIG RED MACHINE. With this music project, he has organized many events (Eauxclaires, PEOPLE, etc.). He has also recently released a collaboration with Taylor Swift on Bon Iver.


#FORWISCONSIN Communicate activities

What kind of place in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, in terms of knowing Bon Iver=Justin Vernon?

Eauxclaire means “clear water” in French. The city has a population of about 65,000 and is located at the confluence of the Eauxclair and Chippewa rivers. There is a lake called Half Moon Lake, and the music scene seems to be thriving with music festivals and live music. As far as I can see, it is a simple city with abundant nature.

During the 2020 U.S. presidential election, Justin Vernon did an activity called #FORWISCONSIN. He rode around Wisconsin in a white van with a bandana covering his mouth. He urged people to vote in the presidential election. (The van had the word “COMMUNICATE.” written on it in large letters, which was also very attractive!!)

He said that each action is not in vain. This is not a political campaign or activity, but rather an activity to visit ordinary people and simply communicate with them. I guess he is concerned about the future of the U.S. and the world due to the ongoing division and conflict among people in the U.S. and racial issues.

He says:

“To me, I think about what it’s going to
  feel like in the future
  When we look back and wonder

  if we did enough”
  -Justin Vernon-

Quoted from

Artists who support this #FORWISCONSIN activity are playing music for us. Anais Mitchell, Sean Carey, Feist, Arcade Fire, Aimee Mann, and many others are participating. I hadn’t heard Aimee Mann’s “Wise Up” in a long time, and it overlaps with the present era…I was really impressed.
It is still available on the website or YouTube.


During the Corona epidemic, there was a video called #PlayAtHome that was broadcast in the U.S., showing artists performing in their homes and studios. The song “22 (Over SooN)” from their third album “22, A MILLION” was performed there. It sounded like a completely different song, perhaps with lyrics and tunes arranged to fit the situation at the time. It was fabulous…

At that time, I listened to it when I was sitting at home during the daily turmoil of anxious news and the corona epidemic. I felt like I was about to burst into tears, but… I also got courage.

Will a new album be delivered in 2021!?

A while back, I saw Justin Vernon live on Instagram Live, where you can see artists performing in their homes and studios. It was a live broadcast of Justin Vernon playing a song (new song?) on his laptop that was probably BIG RED MACHINE.

He was playing a fragment or collage of the song (part of the song) with an abstract video. Even listening to just a fragment of the song, I could tell right away that it was a good song. Anticipation builds…


In 2021, even after the U.S. presidential election, the world seems to be getting more and more chaotic with the Corona problem and the uncertainty of the world situation. I can’t wait to hear what kind of sound do they deliver to us listeners? Whether it’s a new album with Big Red Machine or a new album with Bon Iver.