Political Economy Artist Identity: Justin Vernon

After exploring artist identity in our Political economy lecture, I found an article in the guardian which inspired me to look more at the emotions and feelings which create someone’s identity rather than the superficial, man made things that we often associate with a person which then creates their identity.

Being an avid fan of Justin Vernon and following Bon Iver’s music over time, I know that he is not a ‘typical’ pop star who seems to love the limelight and may not write his own songs. He’s almost polar opposite.

Much has changed since the release of ‘For Emma, Forever Ago’. But I think Justin Vernon’s underlying identity as an artist throughout has always been his vulnerability. Particularly now having reached the bench mark of his third album as Bon Iver. Four years ago there was uncertainty as to Bon Iver’s future and then there was quiet. Vernon entered even more into a time of anxiety, panic attacks and depression, which partly stemmed from the experience of being in the spotlight.

He’s honest and open about where he is at. His music comes from a raw, vulnerable place. A hard place.

‘More than anything, 22, A Million is about Vernon getting lost, both mentally and physically.’
(Bon Iver: There are people who are into being famous. And I don’t like that’ – Laura Barton – The Guardian)

Along with Vernon’s astounding creativity and love for music which makes Bon Iver such a success, is the vulnerability that lies in the frameworks of all the carefully thought out lyrics and instrumentation.

To me, Vernon’s identity is his vulnerability. It makes his music relatable. But also so precious. Fragile & beautiful. And I believe that can only truly stem from a place of pure vulnerability.



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