It's a stirring story, one that wraps Justin Vernon's album into a neat package. It starts when Vernon's first band breaks up, and it ends in the Northwoods.
Jobless and sick, with nowhere to live and a desire to be alone, Vernon stayed (rent-free) in his father's hunting cabin through the winter. He chopped wood, brooded for a while, and then created a spectacular solo debut. Vernon's For Emma, Forever Ago doesn't merely capture a desperate Wisconsin winter, it captures a man resigned to its snowy, woodland loneliness.
That's the true-to-life legend of Bon Iver-the dreariness of life expressed through an album full of dreary optimism, written by a man whose stage name is a play on the French words for "good winter." At least, that's the true-to-life legend that people keep telling . . .