armour let it through, borne the arboretic truth you kept posing
sat down in the suit, fixed on up it wasn't you bar finished closing

ramble in the roots, had the marvel, moved the proof be kneeled fines glowing
storing up the clues, it had its sullen blue bruised through by showing

settle past a patience where wishes and your will are spilling pictures
waters running through in the valley where we grew to write this scripture.

never gonna break
never gonna break
never gonna break
never gonna break
not for a part in any gamut of the dark

doubled in the toes annex it, it minute closed in the morning
did not lose it in the stacks stow, imma lay that call back on ya

you know it won't beseech you, we're laying in an open field
I will let you grow, no need to know this

so carry on my dear, what is clear up in the daylight is we're hung here
fall is coming soon, a new year for the moon and the Hmong here

never gonna break
never gonna break
never gonna break
never gonna break
all that it seems
bellows tracing through the streams

never gonna break
never gonna break
never gonna break
never gonna break
all at its seams
swallows swelling for the beams


Lyrics submitted by iquitmyscene, edited by MCalladine, TheMelaphobic

Minnesota, WI song meanings
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12 Comments

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  • +5
    My InterpretationMaybe it's just me, but I feel that with many Bon Iver songs, it's not necessarily what the words themselves mean. I'm sure that each word has a specific meaning, many of which we will never know.

    But more than the words I feel like we're supposed to understand the feeling. After all, the music comes from the instruments and the rhythm and sound in the voice- not the words. For me, the song has a sense of desperation.

    The beginning is trying to grasp the situation, then you get "Never gonna break" like never going to let go. And then the drop at "Doubled in the toes" (which is amazing) is that desperate plea. And then after that verse it's just calming back down to "Never gonna break" again.
    I always look at his songs as something to be felt, not necessarily what the words mean.
    knriddleon June 24, 2011   Link
  • +3
    Song MeaningThe song references the experience of the ethnic Hmong people who were "relocated" when the Chinese built the Three Gorges dam. The dam flooded the valley where they'd lived for many generations:

    "water’s running through in the valley where we grew"

    My guess is that Justin met some Hmong refugee(s)...

    "fall is coming soon, a new year for the moon and the Hmong here" (Chinese new year?)

    ...and befriended them over a period of time:

    "settle past a patience where wishes and your will are spilling pictures"

    The rest of the song I feel speaks of Justin's surprise at their resiliency...

    "never gonna break"

    ...and the (spiritual?) effect it had on him:
    "armour let it through"
    "had the marvel"
    "be kneeled"
    (refers to the chorus as "this scripture")

    There could be some other bits about the Hmong people having to adjust to city life (most of them were farmers before the dam):

    "sat down in the suit, fixed on up it wasn’t you by finished closing"

    I don't think the "stack's" refers to Re: Stacks, but does refer to a book (literal or metaphoric) - as "annex" can refer to an book's appendix...

    "doubled in the toes annex it, it minute closed in the morning"

    ...which might refer to someone writing of their experience?

    There's plenty more that remains a mystery to me (and perhaps anyone but Justin), but I think the core of the song is just about being moved and humbled by his experience with some Hmong people he met.

    Also, my guess for the title is perhaps that what his Hmong friend(s) mixed the names of the states & cities up?
    lostatlimboon June 24, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI am, by no means, a writer, so forgive me. I believe this song is in reference to Chai Vang, a Hmong man from St. Paul, MN who shot 8 people, killing 6, in northern Wisconsin in 2004 while deer hunting. Justin Vernon would have been about 23 at this time and I have read in interviews that he started hunting when he was 23. The Chai Vang shootings were a tragedy of epic importance in this part of Wisconsin and caused such suffering, not only in lives lost, but also quite a bit of racial, cultural hatred, which I found to be extremely sad. I was there. I was first time rifle hunting with my boyfriend (first and last time of hunting)just about 2 miles from where this all went down that morning. In this typically quiet, cold, stark landscape, I heard the helicopters, police and ambulance sirens who barraged the area after the shootings. It was surreal. It was truly horrible on so many levels.

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…

    Key words/phrases for me (in song order): Title: Minnesota, WI, armour, arboretic truth, suit, storing up the clues, settle past the patience, never gonna break (Vang obviously "broke"), we're laying in an open field, so carry on my dear (I think Vernon intentionally spells "dear" but means "deer") and bellows.

    Just my interpretion. I love this song, but I hate what I think of when I hear it.
    sagemorganon February 19, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General Commentbest song off the new album, it gives me chills every time
    ahhh_meliaon May 25, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe word 'stack's' has to reefer to the meaning of stacks in the song Re Stacks.
    conkon June 12, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General Commentmy favorite off the album.
    mindsawakeon June 15, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentNever one for literal interpretations, and these songs certainly don't lend themselves to them, but I feel like the genesis of this song comes from his days on the high school football field.
    GentleDogson June 23, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentLostatLimbo,
    Your interpretation is very well and I agree to most of it. I think this song does have a lot to do coping with a new lifestyle.

    The Three Gorge dam may be a different matter though, as it was in China it probably affected the ethnic Hmong in China. However many of the Hmong that currently reside in the US (Minnesota and Wisconsin) are those that were relocated here after the Vietnam War.

    My guess is:
    "settle past a patience where wishes and your will are spilling pictures"
    Letting go of the past and ‘wishes and will spilling pictures’ means fond memories of the old country.

    "water�s running through in the valley where we grew to write this this scripture:"
    This might be referring to the popular flower cloth in which the story depicts the Hmong crossing the Mekong river to escape persecution.

    "you know it won�t beseech you, we�re laying in an open field
    I will let you grow, no need to know this"
    I think this could mean that looking at the past life won’t do any good. Rather the open field means a new life in a new country.

    “so carry on my dear, what is clear up in the daylight is we�re hung here
    fall is coming soon, a new year for the moon and the Hmong here”
    This is the home of the Hmong now, and as always they celebrated a new year in their old country they shall do here as well.
    MightyMorphingZekeon June 24, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song is my favorite off the album. I am Hmong and I think the whole Hmong thing is there to describe what Minnesota, and Wisconsin is like. I also agree with what shanlr77 has to say.
    tubzoovangon July 01, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti agree with lostatlimbo and MightyMorphingZeke

    i think that the song is being told from a hmong parent to their child telling them to be optimistic about the new land and the opportunity, and to be strong and never break

    you know it won�t beseech you, we�re laying in an open field
    I will let you grow, no need to know this

    so carry on my dear, what is clear up in the daylight is we�re hung here
    fall is coming soon, a new year for the moon and the Hmong here

    never gonna break
    never gonna break
    never gonna break
    never gonna break
    all that it seems
    bellows tracing through the streams
    JuanHarmonon August 22, 2011   Link

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