Justin Vernon: Background information when reading Shotgun Lovesongs

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Shotgun Lovesongs

by Nickolas Butler

Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Mar 2014, 320 pages
    Feb 2015, 320 pages

  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs

Buy This Book

About this Book

Beyond the Book:
Justin Vernon

Print Review

Nickolas Butler based one of the characters in Shotgun Lovesongs on Justin Vernon, a successful musician with whom he went to high school in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

Justin Vernon Singer, songwriter and producer Justin DeYarmond Edison Vernon was born April 30, 1981 in Eau Claire. According to his father, he started writing songs at the age of 12, and was part of various bands throughout his high school and college years. He attended the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire majoring in Religious Studies and minoring in Women's Studies, all the while continuing to pursue music on the side.

Vernon first teamed up with friends Brad Cook (bass, guitar), Phil Cook (keyboards, banjo) and Joe Westerlund (percussion) in 1997 when the four were sophomores in high school. They bonded during music festivals and camps, eventually forming a group called DeYarmond Edison in 2002. They enjoyed some small success in Wisconsin, but decided to explore other musical scenes, moving to Raleigh, S. Carolina. They released three albums together in 2004-2006, after which the group decided to part company because of creative differences, with Vernon preferring a more classic indie-rock approach to the others' increasingly avant-garde style. Vernon returned to Wisconsin while the other three bandmates formed the group Megafaun.

Vernon eventually felt the pull of music calling him back and he began to write again, making low-tech recordings using just a few guitars, a laptop and a couple of microphones. He played all the instrumentals and sang all the vocals, which required him to do a large number of overdubs to get the effect he wanted. The result was the album For Emma, Forever Ago. He'd originally intended it only as a demo which he'd mail out to music producers in the hope that a studio would buy a song for recording by other artists, but the reception was so positive he opted to release the CD as recorded under the band name "Bon Iver" (pronounced bone-ee-vehr, a corruption of the French bon hiver – "good winter" – a greeting he'd heard on an episode of Northern Exposure). The independently produced album received a lot of attention, and Vernon eventually signed with Jagjaguwar in October 2007, which officially released For Emma, Forever Ago in February 2008.

Bon Iver's second album, Bon Iver, Bon Iver, was released in 2011. Incidentally the band also included other artists such Michael Noyce, Sean Carey, Colin Stetson and Matthew McCaughan. Bon Iver went on to win the 2012 Grammy Award for Best New Artist, and Bon Iver, Bon Iver won for Best Alternative Album, with one of its tracks, "Holocene," being nominated for the Song of the Year. The songs on the album are all places that have meaning for Vernon, with names such as Perth; Minnesota, WI; and Lisbon, OH. He told MOJO that Holocene was the name of a bar in Portland where he had a "dark night of the soul."

In a 2012 interview with Rolling Stone, Vernon stated that he was disbanding Bon Iver. "[I'm] winding it down. I look at it like a faucet. I have to turn it off and walk away from it because so much of how that music comes together is subconscious or discovering. There's so much attention on the band, it can be distracting at times. I really feel the need to walk away from it while I still care about it. And then if I come back to it – if at all – I'll feel better about it and be renewed or something to do that." He confirmed the hiatus at the last Bon Iver concert in Dublin on November 12, 2012.

Vernon continues to write, record and produce music. He rents an apartment in downtown Eau Claire and designed a recording studio not far away in Fall Creek (in an old veterinary clinic he purchased with his brother). He collaborated with Kanye West, who used a number of his tracks for his album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Vernon also performs and records with bands Volcano Choir and Gayngs.

Click on video below to listen to the song "Holocene."

Picture of Justin Vernon with Bon Iver performing at Way Out West by Simon Appelblad from Wikipedia.org

Article by Kim Kovacs

This article was originally published in April 2014, and has been updated for the February 2015 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

This article is available to non-members for a limited time. You can also read these articles for free. For full access become a member today.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Force
    The Force
    by Don Winslow
    Intense! That's the word. Winslow's The Force rips through its four hundred pages with the...
  • Book Jacket: Shadow Man
    Shadow Man
    by Alan Drew
    Alan Drew's debut novel, Gardens of Water, was an ambitious work of literary fiction set amid ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Noise of Time
    by Julian Barnes
    Confession: I do two terrible – some say unforgivable – things while reading a book. First...

Win this book!
Win The Library of Light and Shadow

The Library of Light and Shadow by M.J. Rose

"Possibly her best yet. A sensuous, sumptuous, and spellbinding novel." - Kirkus Reviews


First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Almost Sisters
    by Joshilyn Jackson

    A powerful, emotionally resonant novel of the South.
    Reader Reviews

Word Play

Solve this clue:

T H Are B T O

and be entered to win..

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney

A funny and acutely perceptive debut about four siblings and the fate of their shared inheritance.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.