Life is funny.
Just a little over two weeks ago, I was sitting in the kitchen of my childhood home while my mother and brother prepared to watch the Super Bowl. After Kelly Clarkson stepped up to sing the “Star-Spangled Banner”, my brother said something about her being considered an “artist of the decade“. “Really?” was my reply, as I find it odd to have the words ‘artist’ and ‘Kelly Clarkson’ in the same sentence, let alone in a ranking situation. He went on to tell her rags-to-riches story, that we Americans seem to always eat up and tear over, and I have to say, to go from singing on a TV show (she won second place in the original American Idol competition) to having a successful, real-life, international music career in ten years is quite an accomplishment. However, I told him and my mother I that when I think of musical artists who have risen ‘out of no where” and made an impacting mark the first that comes to mind is Bon Iver, even though the band is more of an end-of-decade suggestion.
Both my mom and my brother answered, “Who???” And I told them of the band, and of Justin Vernon penning and recording For Emma, Forever Ago, which basically fell out of the woods and into music festivals in barely a year. I told them that the band is signed to a label right in Bloomington (Jagjaguwar). I told them about how the new album was up for a few Grammy awards and how the band had collaborated with and inspired many notable artists in the past few years, everyone from Kanye West to Peter Gabriel. Their response, “Yeah, but nobody knows who that is…”
Of course, by then I was pretty much going crazy. I told them about the many magazines and media sources that the band had been featured in and how that young, new UK singer covered on of the band’s songs, but I soon gave up, knowing I was fighting a losing battle. My family doesn’t follow “indie music” like I do (raise your hand if you were the oddball of your family as well), and they tend to assume that I and the music and bands that I listen to only exist in this small, other-wordly dimension.
Flash forward to Bon Iver winning two Grammy awards last week and everyone is Bon Iver (or Bonnie Bear) crazy. Old videos are receiving numerous comments online as new ears are “discovering” how great this band is. And I’m not hating, I’m really excited that more people are finally being exposed to this talented group of musicians. It’s something everyone should want for the music that inspires them. It’s why we make mixtapes, and playlists, and blogs to share the word about our favorite bands/albums. Reading the headlines and comments on blogs and websites, such as today’s Huffington Post article “Bon Iver 4AD Session: Justin Vernon And Sean Carey Sing Their Hearts Out For 24 Minutes“, it’s clear that a lot of people are interested in finding out who this band really is and what it’s all about. However, it’s also a bit of an entertaining ride to just sit back and watch people go fishing, knowing that you caught the big one years ago.
To those of you who have been fans for a while now, enjoy it, but don’t gloat. Instead of getting all ‘hipster’ bragging about how “you knew them before”, instead try be helpful and point out other things new fans may not be aware of yet, like the when Bon Iver performed the first ever session for Indianapolis video blog LaundroMatinee, or the band’s beautful a cappella Take Away Show in Paris with French music/video blog La Blogotheque. Both were recorded on the heels of the release of For Emma, Forever Ago and are among my favorite live performances of the band.
To those of you who are new, welcome to it. This band is absolutely amazing and if you keep digging, all you will find is beautiful music. Bon Iver is just one of many Midwestern gems that are about to be your favorite band.