"Blood Bank" as written by and Justin Deyarmond Edison Vernon....
Well, I met you at the blood bank
We were looking at the bags
Wondering if any of the colors
Matched any of the names we knew on the tags

You said "see lookit, that's yours
Stacked on top with your brother's
See how they resemble one another
Even in their plastic little covers"

And I said I know it well

That secret that you knew
But don't know how to tell
It fucks with your honor
And it teases your head
But you know that it's good, girl
'Cause its running you with red

Then the snow started falling
We were stuck out in your car
You were rubbing both of my hands
Chewing on a candy bar

You said "ain't this just like the present
To be showing up like this"
As a moon waned to crescent
We started to kiss

And I said I know it well

That secret that we know
That we don't know how to tell
I'm in love with your honor
I'm in love with your cheeks
What's that noise up the stairs babe?
Is that Christmas morning creaks?

And I said I know it well
And I know it well
And I know it well
And I know it well
And I know it well
And I know it well
And I know it well
And I know it well


Lyrics submitted by sidelinedseason

"Blood Bank" as written by Justin Vernon

Lyrics © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.

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Blood Bank song meanings
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  • +24
    General Commenti'm about to get super sappy and fangirly. don't let the literary references fool you.
    in midnight's children, a novel by salman rushdie, the narrator explains that reality is a matter of perception. he claims that they closer that we are to the present, the more incredible it is. things only become plausible, legitimate, ordinary as we move away and the present becomes past.
    ain't this just like justin vernon to be showing up salman rushdie?
    this song so beautifully and succinctly captures that same concept. love, like the present, sneaks up on you quickly. unpremeditated, unanalyzed... the most unbelievable, life altering, and breathe taking moments so often take place when you least expect them, in places as regular as blood banks and car seats.
    i wonder, though, what stage is this relationship in?
    my initial thought is that this is a new encounter. after all, the song begins with their meeting. but then again, she recognizes his blood, knows his very essence, right away. either a testament to the strength of their 'love at first sight,' or proof of how well they know each other?
    his agreement, "I know it well," of course changes in meaning throughout the song. initially, however, it confirms his mutual understanding of himself or perhaps of her. again, hard to tell whether these impressions have come strong and fast, or have built over time.
    in the first chorus, "the secret" has to be romantic feelings hidden for fear of unknown consequences. will my love be reciprocated? am i lying by being with this person and not acknowledging the way i truly feel about them? ... am i crazy? definitely "fucks with your honor and teases your head." the fact that these consequences exist certainly implies that a lot is on the line with the recent romantic revelations. probably a lot more than a fresh and faux-platonic acquaintanceship.
    can't bypass the chorus without saying how much i loooove the tension between the certain and uncertain here. she (he? though he directly addresses her, it seems like he could just as easily be talking to himself) KNOWS the secret, KNOWS that it's good, but just can't goddamn overcome her internal conflict, her struggle with what she DOESN'T KNOW -- how it will all work out. so relatable; so passionate.
    and god, what a simple and gorgeous little scene that comes next? hand rubbing, candy bar eating, kissing in the snowfall and moonlight... am i watching a winterized version of the notebook? only bon iver can achieve this level of adorable sweetness without making it cheezzy as hell and simultaneously manage to nestle the song's philosophical gem within it.
    "ain't this just like the present / to be showing up like this?" ohmylord. incredible. this song, chock full of smoldering intensity, reaches its peak here. in the midst of a giggling interaction, in the negative light of a dying moon, this line sneaks up and smacks you with confusion and relief. i mean... this girl's spewing insight practically mid hook up. what the hell? and yet i find myself enthralled and enraptured by the profundity of what she says, the exact moment she choses to say it, the results of her decision ("we started to kiss"; "is that xmas morning creaks?"). thank GOODNESS the secret is out! hallelujah that these moments, these words, this present -- as incredible and unexpected as it is -- happened to piece together in the right way! thank the powers that be that when all hung in the balance, it tilted towards love!
    still... there's something bittersweet about it all. if these are new friends, then isn't fate just an unpredictable son of a bitch for introducing you to the love of your life when you least expect it? if these are old friends, then isn't fate just an unpredictable son of a bitch for tormenting you with uncertainty one moment and fulfilling your wildest dreams the next? whichever one it is, again, he "knows it well." this time it's acceptance, it's willingness to give this thing a go, it's knowledge that this may end up very bitter or very sweet.
    ahh. i love the steady drum that builds during this chorus. i feel like its my heart cheering for them. finally, straightforward, he says it. he's "in love." duh. we knew that before he did. but zooooom forward into the future, and you realize that this can't just be lusty love or a short lived romance. "what's that noise up the stairs, babe? / is that christmas morning creaks?" : he cares about her so much, he can see himself married to her, having children, hearing them upstairs roused and ready for presents on some distant christmas morning. of course it can be taken as a literal flash forward, but i like to imagine him waking up with her after their first time together and groggily remembering a whole future he dreamed for them.
    this time, when he "knows it well," it's commitment. an assuredness of their togetherness. an affirmation of their incredible present, and their even more exciting future.
    natbrackon January 27, 2009   Link
  • +14
    General CommentI Saw Bon Iver in September last year at the end of the road festival.
    Before he played this song he said "This song is about being stuck in a car in the snow, with somebody new" I really dont think there is much more to it than that.
    Admitadly Most of Justin's lyrics are very subtle and oblique. Never trying to be to specific.
    But i think essentially its about two people who meet at a Blood bank and find them selves stuck in a car. The realisations that happen when you start thinking about whats happening at the present time like you do if you meet somone special. Your thoughts begin to work differently. So much of peoples time is spent thinking about the past and the future.
    Its very strange when you meet someone special and there is a conection when you start thinking about the moment and what it means to you now. You kind of know your going to look back fondly on whats happening.
    Bubblechildon March 23, 2009   Link
  • +8
    General CommentDoes anyone think that it could be about too people that used to be in love that just randomly ran into each other? and that secret that they both do not know how to tell is that they still do love eachother? I do not buy into this whole pregnancy theory.
    Musicman062592on March 20, 2012   Link
  • +6
    General Commenthes the only man that makes "fuck" sound like the most beautiful word in the english language.
    yourswellon May 18, 2009   Link
  • +5
    General CommentI love the phrase "I know it well" in this song. I was in a long relationship that was really unhealthy and my girlfriend was constantly taking advantage of me and hurting me and every time she'd hurt me she'd have some excuse and if ever I'd bring something up she'd turn it around on me saying something like "why don't you trust me" or something very similar. I caught her cheating on me more than once but for some dumb reason I couldn't let her go and for some even dumber reason she couldn't let me go. Either way, every time I'd learn she did something else to me I'd always get really quiet and speak very softly and in the same tone as Bon Iver sings that phrase of the song. And the words "I know it well" were words that I told her every time she'd give her excuses. She'd say something trying to exonerate herself and my thought "I know it well" would keep me from getting mad at her and keep her from thinking I was mad. It made her think I understood even though I meant it as I know how you feel about me. I felt like the phrase summed up everything and left it closed enough that she didn't have to bring it up again but open enough that she could let me go and be honest with me. Ultimately that's why I think I stayed with her...I just wanted her to admit that she didn't love me like she used to. Sadly that never happened. The phrase in the song brings back that same feeling for me though and I don't know why but I soothes me unimaginably.
    starkiller7on November 07, 2012   Link
  • +3
    General CommentI don't imagine this man will ever write a bad song. This is incredible. Mindblowingly incredible.
    leahperon December 05, 2008   Link
  • +3
    General Commenti think it is an incredibly beautiful love song

    i think it is the most beautiful love song written in awhile...

    Vernon is a master of imagery

    "I'm in love with your honor."

    That lyric is like a hand reaching into my heart.
    erintricklestooon April 09, 2009   Link
  • +3
    General CommentI think this is an amazing piece that's about the fascination we have with love and falling into it. The blood reference in the beginning could refer to commonness we all share. As far as blood goes, there's nothing to the naked eye that would make us different from anyone else. However there is that attraction that's completely indisputable.

    By the second chorus, he's figured out that he's in love. The attraction, greater than blood, has been recognized and he has no idea how to tell her. It but it's there and he knows it's ok with her, that she knows without him having to say a word, because she's blushing...running with red. he knows what this is and he knows it well, that feeling of falling.

    Her rubbing his hands is a sign of reciprocation, she's concerned with his well being and trying to keep him warm while doing something as simple as "chewing on a candy bar". They kiss because the attraction far beyond blood has been recognized. In essence, they've sealed the deal.

    I think they escape the snow and the story moves. To me, this is the most beautiful part. The Christmas Morning reference indicated they were going to make love for the first time. It seemed that the unwrapping of presents would be very much like the unwrapping of clothing and exposing the gifts underneath.
    copperkittenon April 19, 2009   Link
  • +3
    General CommentWhat's that noise up the stairs babe?
    Is that Christmas morning creaks?

    This part gives me chills in the song.

    When you think about it - with or without kids in your life - if you heard a noise up the stairs on any old day of the year, it's probably just a creak.
    But on Christmas morning - there is a 99% chance that creak is the footsteps of an excited child.

    I think it goes with the pregnancy idea. That noise is now (going to be) the noise of a child's footsteps.
    wilthenarwhalon March 12, 2010   Link
  • +2
    General CommentTo reply to Lally123, I'm fairly sure she means present as in the present moment, not present as in a gift or child.

    Which is a pretty cool, noticing each moment becoming the present.

    As for my own interpretation, the thing she cannot tell is that she's alive. She doesn't know how to explain life & feeling. No answer to the great questions of why we're here and such.. But he says you know it's good though, cause it's running you with red (blood) as kinda of like a symbol for life. (I forgot what those type of symbolisms are called v_v)
    So I'm taking it as he's pointing out.. we [her] might not know how to explain life, but it's in our veins.. we have the answer in us, we just don't know how to explain it.

    TakenAptlyon January 27, 2009   Link

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