Home of Michael Perry – New York Times Bestselling Author, Humorist, Singer/Songwriter, Intermittent Pig Farmer

Posts Tagged ‘bon iver’

Eaux Claires Intros, Thank You

(video credit Volume One)


To say more after all that has been said is to risk beating a dead unicorn, so I will simply express one final time my deep gratitude for being included in the recent Eaux Claires festival.

For those who requested text of the narration I did to introduce The National on Friday and Bon Iver on Saturday, here they are (video of the Bon Iver intro above) (I dunno, you get in front of that many people you tend to either go goggle-throated or get your preacher on…):


(Backstory: I first met Aaron Dessner of The National just two miles from my farm in the middle of winter.) 

Last winter a man stood bundled in the snow not far from here.

The air in his nose was alcohol cool, his white breath hung like surrender.

Oxygen, expired as ice.

Winter is the great equalizer. Knocks everything flat. Kills it dead.

This leaves us with the miracle of spring. Followed by the decadence of summer, when the man returns. Stands in the deep swampy green and understands he has witnessed a slow-motion resurrection. That some seed he dropped that long ago frozen day has thrust itself from the earth to shatter every icicle, send them running to the river, the river right behind you, the river right behind you, the music…right in front of you.



(Backstory: Through some high-level contacts I knew Bon Iver was going to open with Heavenly Father.)

Hey dere.

It’s good to see you here. Everybody gathered around for vespers. Nothin’ much left to do here in the evening hour now but gather round and sing a few hymns.

My name is Michael Perry. It’s been my honor and my privilege to be the narrator of the Eaux Claires Festival. We are so grateful you joined us here. We’re pretty much an unbeautiful bunch, man. We are flat-footed clodhoppers who feel inside like maybe we could dance, and we don’t really know any other way than to just get at it and have at it.

And we know it wouldn’t happen without our neighbors, without those who raised us, without this Chippewa Valley, and without you.

If you hold yourself still and silent now, you can feel that river behind you. Runnin’ through the night. Runnin’ through all time.

It’s good to have music near a river. There’s this idea of baptism. Of absolution. No matter what you believe. Better yet, it’s good to have music near a place where two rivers come together. A confluence. For what are we but a confluence—a confluence that lives and breathes, a confluence of dream and song, a confluence of 22,000 beating hearts.

And so here we are, cradled by a river in a sanctuary of sound.

Craving consecration.


On bended knee, seeking…benediction.


Bootlegged Thanks

Thanks for all the “Bootlegged” orders, folks. It’s a lo-fi and on-the-fly live recording of a show the Long Beds and I did at the Big Top. Includes some stories in between songs including the one about me drawing blood from Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) on behalf of Wayne Coyne (Flaming Lips) because, I…I…well, sometimes you gotta help the neighbors.

The Scavengers: Inside the Inside Joke

On page 51 of The Scavengers, Maggie (Ford Falcon) describes her father emerging from the shack wearing his favorite t-shirt, which she describes as blue with an illustration of an old-fashioned door lock on the back, and a key on the front. Later in the book, the blue t-shirt plays a critical role in a significant plot turn.

There really is a t-shirt like that (see the gallery below), but the “H” is an inside joke based on Maggie’s description of a musician slowly going crazy after years of explaining how his name was supposed to be pronounced. Thank you to the real “Bon Hiver” for permission to sneak that little Easter egg into the book.


Blind Boys of Alabama via Fall Creek

Blind Boys grab jpeg

This was recorded just down the road a piece. I got to be a little part of it. I’ll say more when the time comes. It will be released September 30, but you can listen to one track right here right now.

(The link isn’t real obvious, look for the little circled triangle).

Miscellaneous Fall Creek convergence trivia: The Bon Iver song featured on the page linked above floats through the final chapter of Visiting Tom.

Usually I Try To Be More Humble But…

…just this morning it occurred to me that not just one*, but two** of the musicians with whom I have written and recorded music have been nominated for Grammys.

So the pattern is established: If you want your name in a fancy envelope, book your studio time with me now.

*OK, so he was nominated long before we ever met. Technicality.

**Possibly the first time the phrase “from the get-go” was ever used in a Grammy interview.

The Many Forms of Gratitude

For two nights in a row, I had the privilege of standing onstage beside a friend. I want to commit an impossible thank you, and this post is my attempt to get there.

Now and then way back when Justin was living on the change in his pocket (and less), we’d talk sometimes. He’ll tell you I said and wrote some things that were a help. I hope that’s true, although he’s very kindly ignoring the exponentially larger amounts of meandering blather he had to siphon off first. More foam than beer, I fear. And for the record (this will be one of my all-time claims to bad-advice fame) when he emerged from the woods with For Emma, Forever Ago and asked my opinion before he released it, I said I could see what he was trying to do there but I wasn’t sure this whole singing-in-falsetto thing was gonna pan out.

Cue the world tours and multiple Grammy noms.

I guess I’d say what I’ve said before: I’m proud of Justin in an avuncular way, not a proprietary way.

All the more gratitude in my heart then, for his invitation to join him for the two recent concerts. If you weren’t there, I read John Denver’s “Alfie the Christmas Tree” poem while Justin and the band played their song “Lisbon, OH.” The poem is from John Denver and the Muppets: A Christmas Together, a source of many fond memories for Justin and his family. Roughly ninety seconds onstage each night, but my heart full at being there, at being asked to be there, and to stand just for that short moment as witness to what he has created. The greybeard uncle, hanging out for a heartbeat or two

People ask, and the deal is, I see Justin only now and then. We keep in touch, but not overly much. There comes with his level of success certain whirlwinds and I am truly removed from that, just packing my book boxes, typing in my room over the garage, feeding the chickens, trying to be a decent husband and dad, worrying about the mortgage, and so on. We’re working different arenas in every sense of the word. If you’re looking for some red-hot inside info, I will tell you that I snow-plowed his driveway not so long ago, a real neighborly thing to do except that I got a little off track and gouged a big swath of sod off his yard.

What’s he like? those same people ask, and I say, well, he’s the one with that answer, not me. Although once I told someone he’s about the perfect blend of namaste and “hey dere,” and I’d stand by that.

I invoke the word gratitude so often I suppose sometimes I’m coming off cornpone. I relish sarcasm and irony as much as the next postmodern pig farmer, but sometimes they’re just a shiny sleeve to cover your heart. And so without cover let me say that as I drove home in the dark last night I drove in gratitude: for good things come my friend’s way, for his gratitude, for the love shown him by the crowd, for this slow-motion pinball life of mine allowing me to witness from that stage, and – as I turned off the car and walked toward the house where my wife and daughters slept – for my full, small life.