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Bon Iver On World Cafe | September 26, 2011

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It's a stretch to call "Beth/Rest" the year's most divisive song, but it's hard to discuss Bon Iver's second album without weighing in on its '80s-style closer. Next to the lush, impeccably crafted grace that precedes it, "Beth/Rest" couldn't be more jarring: With its electric keyboards, saxophones and epic guitar solos, the track could double as the lost love theme to a misbegotten action movie in which Morgan Fairchild seduces a suave diamond thief played by Lou Diamond Phillips.

In circles where such matters are discussed, "Beth/Rest" has become synonymous with "cheesy," defended primarily by contrarians. Which is too bad, because the song is a grower — at worst, there's clearly beauty in there somewhere. Singer Justin Vernon has defended "Beth/Rest" endlessly, and has clearly fallen more deeply in love with the arrangement the more people make fun of it, to the point where he always performs it with its moist embellishments intact.

Until now. As part of a stripped-down set for World Cafe, Vernon threw in a spare solo arrangement of "Beth/Rest" — no saxophones, no solos — on a real, unplugged piano. Vernon still takes his vocal in unexpected places, especially early on, but if you're one of those "Beth/Rest"-haters who wishes the song would get stripped naked and dressed in something more comfortable, you'll want to listen to this. And, as part of a half-hour performance and discussion with host David Dye, Vernon plays two other Bon Iver songs: "Holocene," from the new album, and the lovely but lesser-known "Beach Baby," from 2009's Blood Bank EP. (link)

This performance originally aired on September 2, 2011.



Beth Orton "Central Reservation" Central Reservation
Big Star "September Gurls" Radio City
Girls "Honey Bunny" Father, Son, Holy Ghost
Bon Iver "Holocene" Recorded Live for the World Cafe
Bon Iver "Beach Baby" Recorded Live for the World Cafe
Bon Iver "Beth/Rest" Recorded Live for the World Cafe
The Civil Wars "Barton Hollow" Barton Hollow
Bonnie Raitt "Angel from Montgomery" The Bonnie Raitt Collection
Blitzen Trapper "Love the Way You Walk" American Goldwing
Old 97's "Every Night Is Friday Night without You" The Grand Theatre Vol. 1


Elvis Costello "You Bowed Down" All This Useless Beauty
Meg Baird "Beatles and Stones" Seasons on Earth
Meg Baird "Stars Climb Up the Vine" Seasons on Earth
Pentangle "Sally Go Round the Roses" Light Flight
The Decemberists "Down by the Water" The King Is Dead
Robert Plant & Alison Krauss "Please Read the Letter" Raising Sand
Nick Lowe "Sensitive Man" The Old Magic
Fred Neil "Everybody's Talkin'" Many Sides of Fred Neil
Diego Garcia "You Were Never There" Laura
Suzanne Vega "Caramel" Single
Megafaun "State/Meant" Megafaun
Dr. Dog "Shadow People" Shame, Shame
Foster the People "Helena Beat" Torches