A couple of years ago I was rummaging through YouTube channels in search of ‘new music’ for my somewhat profound-growing-self, exploring new music to feed this curious soul of mine. I was going through a phase of an existential crisis, questioning my motives of living. There was an unending feud going on within me from questions to confusions and life decisions, it was then that I stumbled upon a few songs including Bon Iver’s “Skinny Love” which was a completely different genre for me back then when I was a dedicated ‘Metal’ fan. Indie Folk was a whole new world for me, from the profound meanings behind the songs, the thought provoking lyrics, idyllically inexplicable album art and the amazingly ‘eargasmic’ tunes.
“Skinny Love” came out in 2007 as a single from Bon Iver’s debut album For Emma, Forever Ago. There had been many assumptions since then on what the song is about, trying to clarify the meaning behind it but music is a not your typical math problem, it is a form of art that can be interpreted in a thousand ways.
Justin Vernon, who also wrote the lyrics of the song, has an unparalleled euphonious voice that is an elixir to your ears and soul. He has a rather sugary Irish touch in his voice that keeps you enthralled throughout the song.
The song centers on how the ghosts of the past can be haunting for the future, you are somewhat stuck in a limbo of fear and uncertainties to fall in love all over again. Vernon seems unable to move forward after going through the misery of love. However it can also be derived from the lyrics “I tell my love to wreck it all/Cut out all the ropes and let me fall” that this is a song about desolation in love yet Vernon is yearning for affection, wishing to live in the moment and let himself fall all over again in the bittersweet taste of love.
The title itself interprets that the lovers/friends are tied by a knot that is too frail to last long and the love they share is too ‘skinny’ to survive and is on the verge of dying. The line “Come on, skinny love, just last the year/Pour a little salt you were never here” defines that the relationship between these two people is fading away but they are still trying hard to figure a way out, to make it last forever.
Skinny Love for me was not a just another song but an epiphany that made me realize there’s more to life than just surviving it. It gave me a different perspective on life when I was torn between the world of illusions and reality.
I recommend this song to all the oddly beautiful souls out there who are always petrified to start anew and live in the fear of making the same mistakes again and again.