Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Top 100 Songs of 2011 -- #40: "Beth/Rest" -- Bon Iver

2011 will be marked as the year everyone went ALL THE FUCK OUT for Bon Iver. After For Emma, Forever Ago's runaway success and his collabs with Kanye on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, the man born Justin Vernon was ripe for a flurry of success with his follow-up.

That said, many expected a return to For Emma form, and that's not exactly what they received with Bon Iver's self-titled sophomore effort. This was to be expected. Vernon didn't record the album basically by himself in a cabin in Wisconsin. He had more tools at his disposal, including more musicians. Those hoping for the intimacy of his debut... well, not to say Bon Iver isn't intimate, but it's so in a totally different way.

Still, the experiment worked, and Bon Iver has been nominated for multiple GRAMMYs, including some of the top honors of the ceremony for song "Holocene."

Disclaimer: I'm actually not a huge fan of Bon Iver. I KNOW, I'M SORRY. There's just something about him that doesn't catch me nearly as much as most others. I can respect and concede that it's a good record, but I didn't go gaga for it (or his other releases, for that matter) right off.

But Bon Iver ended up not becoming a throwaway I'll never revisit again for one reason: album closer "Beth/Rest."

Holy God Jesus Almighty. Christopher Cross called, Justin. He doesn't want his act back. He wants to know how you perfected it.

"Beth/Rest" is basically 30 years behind its time. Remember the yacht rock craze of the 1980s? Most of you probably don't or only do because you decided to revisit the time period because you weren't born yet. Well... it's not exactly the most manly genre out there, but it yielded some good stuff. Cross in particular nailed the genre with "Sailing," arguably the biggest yacht rock song ever.

With "Beth/Rest," Vernon pays a homage to the music. It is completely out of place and comes seemingly out of nowhere, but it's also the only song from Bon Iver that really resonates with me. This could be my secret love affair with Christopher Cross.

Seriously, this could have topped the Hot 100 charts 30 years ago. There's piano, '80s guitar, saxophone... what more do you need? Slide guitar is thrown in toward the end for good measure. It's such a foreign song to Bon Iver himself, but it would have fit right in three decades ago.

And really, when was the last time we had a good yacht rock song, anyway? We're due.

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