Misinterpreting Lyrics

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Bon Iver, “Towers”


Man walks into bar. Takes shot of whiskey. Mutters “renewal.”

 It’s a rainy Saturday here in Boston. Ryan listens to Bon Iver, scribbles down what he thinks are lyric on a notebook. Here’s what he wrote. Lyrics in italics, notes in bold.


For the love and for the now

In the swampy August storm

What a mischief you would bring my darling

When the onus is not all your own

When you offer it before you’ve grown

I wanted to make “the now” into snow, couldn’t quite swing it. First of all, the end of that first line is more of a long “a” than long “o” as well as the August storm in the next line. I trace the “it” back to love and now. It’s about loss of innocence, offering love in the now in a swampy August storm before you’re ready.



From the front forever grown

In the towers of your honeycomb

Oh I’d towel your hair up just to climb back darling

When you’re feeling out your only form

Can you tell that it’s just ceremony

Now you’ve had it up to what you’ve flown

I think I can comfortably say I’ve listened to this song an upwards of 50 times, but I never realized it was about having sex for the first time. I don’t how or why but I’m taking “honeycomb” sexually. I also didn’t know I was going to have to write about sex this afternoon and I’m not totally prepared but we’re too far into this now to stop. I’m almost positive that Justin doesn’t say “I’d towel your hair up” but that’s what I wrote down and goddammit we’re going with it.  Feeling out your only form, ceremony, flown, yep definitely sexual. But just to note, this isn’t sexy sexual or even awkward. This is some sort of mystic sexual, which actually sounds even weirder and I apologize for making this awkward. But I think that’s why I never saw it before, because the story, these two people losing their virginity, is clouded in this mystical August storm.



 Did you tear the rain out from your fragrance

At the sinner’s table (no idea)

Fought the fiercest fables all mislabeled

The rain is from the August storm. Sinner’s table because they just had sex. IT’S ALL MAKING SENSE. Until, the next two lines. I’m not sure what he says at the end of both of those lines, but “all mislabeled” sounded to really good to me so I wrote it down. Bon Iver just came up with the best lyrics of all time, “Fought the fiercest fables all mislabeled.” Put that on my tombstone. Tattoo it to my face.


For the love comes the burning young

From the liver sweating through your tongue

Well, you’re standing on my stone and don’t you climb down darling

Oh the Sundays are the first to rest

Smoke on Sundays when you’re drunk and dressed

At the hollows where the swallows missed

I understand that for some reason the first line “for the love comes the burning young” doesn’t really feel right grammatically, but who care it makes sense. The young, their liver to their tongue sweating, burning come for love. And just like that, we’re drunk and dressed on Sunday, resting. Maybe we just got back from church. Maybe we didn’t make it to church. Everything is all right. That’s what I love about these songs. Everything is chill.

And if you can make sense out of that last line, you win a date with one of roommates, in exchange for a dog.


**Actual lyrics found here http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/boniver/towers.html


Bonus: My five favorite Bon Iver Songs

5. Skinny Love

4. Perth

3. Hinnom, TX

2. Re: Stacks

1. Towers

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