The New Bon Iver Song Will Not Change Your Life
Stream "Heavenly Father" now
Perhaps the most noteworthy thing about the new Bon
Iver song, an original written for the upcoming Zach Braff film Wish I Was
Here, is that it’s a Bon Iver song. Bon Iver has been on Justin Vernon’s
backburner for the last couple of years, as the songwriter has devoted more
time to his side bands Volcano Choir and The Shouting Machines, leaving
some doubt as to whether he might ever return to the project he’ll always be
best associated with. So “Heavenly Father,” which NPR premiered today, suggests
that if nothing else Bon Iver continues to exist in some form, even if it finds
Vernon in something less than peak form. It is, to use a metric Zach Braff will
never live down, not a song that will change your life.
Wish I Was Here’s music director Mary Ramos told NPR the song came to Vernon in a fit of inspiration after she flew to Wisconsin to screen a rough cut of the film for Vernon and his brother Nate. "They were enjoying it and laughing, but at a certain point, they just got quiet,” she wrote. “When it was over, Justin started humming. We talked afterwards about the relationship between Zach's character and his brother [Josh Gad], and Justin and Nate talked a little about their father — all the while Justin kept distractedly humming. Eventually, he sang out the words 'heavenly father.' Before I even left their house, Justin was recording the first version of the song in his downstairs studio. His inspiration was that immediate."
The resulting song has all the heartfelt falsetto, casual profanity and unabashed earnestness you’ve come to expect from Vernon, though it can’t help but come across as a bit thin compared to his widescreen work with Volcano Choir on last year’s Repave.
You can stream it at NPR.