59.) Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago (2007)
For Emma, Forever Ago is a record so steeped in lore that it's story has become an integral part of ones enjoyment of it. You probably know this already, but should you not, For Emma, Forever Ago was recorded by one dude, Justin Vernon, in his father's Wisconsin cabin after a particularly difficult break-up (or two, he also broke his band up in this process) in the dead of winter. Making For Emma was supposed to be a cathartic experience for an audience of, well, a few. Regardless of Vernon's intentions, the record ended up becoming one of the most buzzed about of the decade and made an unlikely superstar out of the man that made it.
And, make no mistake about it, For Emma, Forever Ago is a gorgeous record and the heaps of praise bestowed upon it are more than justified. For Emma was an absolute phenomenon - originally self released where it gained some buzz and then picked up by indie label jagjaguar shortly after and immediately becoming THE indie rock record of 2007.
For Emma, Forever Ago may make you sad, I'm sure it's had that effect on some people, but ultimately it's transcendent in its sadness. I have this weird desire to be able to feel that sad. To be able to tap into these feelings the way Vernon does. It just seems so cathartic and in many ways, romantic. Imagine just taking months out of your life to hole yourself up in a cabin and then coming away from that experience with these songs...with a bona fide masterpiece. It takes guts to do that. And the fact that that wasn't even his plan...well, artists you know?
I've listened to For Emma, Forever Ago quite often since it's release and it never ceases to impress me. Most records that go through the hype machine the way this one did emerge a bit worse for wear, but For Emma never does. I think it's because it's so raw. It's so honest. The content is the very definition of beauty and you can see it when you close your eyes. The snow turning to ice on the trees. The wind knocking against the windows. These songs feel like that, they feel like winter and I guess if you don't love that, you may not love this record quite as much as I do.
Posted by Pat Driscoll