"Towers" as written by and Justin Deyarmond Edison Vernon....
For the love, I'd fallen on
In the swampy August dawn
What a mischief you would bring young darling!
When the onus is not all your own
When you're up for it before you've grown

From the faun forever gone
In the towers of your honeycomb
I'd a tore your hair out just to climb back darling
When you're filling out your only form
Can you tell that it?s just ceremon'
Now you've added up to what you're from

Build your tether rain-out from your fragments'
Break the sailor's table on your sacrum'
Fuck the fiercest fables, I'm with Hagen

For the love, comes the burning young
From the liver, sweating through your tongue
Well, you're standing on my sternum don't you climb down darling
Oh the sermons are the first to rest
Smoke on Sundays when you?re drunk and dressed
Out the hollows where the swallow nests


Lyrics submitted by doomgazer

"Towers" as written by Justin Deyarmond Edison Vernon

Lyrics © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.

Lyrics powered by LyricFind

Towers song meanings
Add your thoughts

19 Comments

sort form View by:
  • +12
    General CommentSource: thealchemyindex.wordpress.com/2011/07/28/child-of-winter-child-of-sun-justin-vernon-bon-iver-interview/

    Interviewer: The place name’s on the album, do they relate to the content of the songs at all?

    Justin Vernon: Yeah, they all do, take ‘Towers’ for example: ‘Towers’ is the name of the dormitory that I lived in in college; it’s made up of these two towers — North and South — my girlfriend lived in one and I lived in the other. It’s about falling in love, but also about what happens when you’ve long fallen out of love and those reminders are still there. You drive by them, these two buildings, and you look, and you realise that we really built that up. That we really built that love into these things, and for a long time afterward looking at them really made me feel sad; to see these empty buildings that I don’t go in to anymore. But then, as time goes on, they start to become kind of joyous in their own way: you can look at them and think ‘that love was great and these buildings still stand tall’. But there’s also an element of the fact that they’re just buildings — they’re gonna fall down one day, and they’re not that important because there’s new love in your life and you’ve got to break things down that get built up.
    mikecon February 27, 2012   Link
  • +7
    General CommentThis song is about naive preconceptions of love being mystical and blissful. He has felt burdens of love and is past the stage of infatuate desire for the perfect love story, taking a forlorn standpoint toward life always having it's complications. Then he falls in love with the innocence of a girl who's euphoric enthusiasm for intimacy moves him. Although he recognizes that he taints her pure notion of love, he has fallen for her and has no choice but to unintentionally bring her down to earth:

    for the love, Iʼd fallen on
    in the swampy August dawn
    what a mischief you would bring young darling!
    when the onus is not all your own
    when you're up for it before you've grown

    [His perception of love and life was all a 'swamp', formless and murky. He needed restoration and stumbled upon her untainted love. Her presence in his life would only cause disorder in hers, but she is enthusiastic about finding love. She feels obligated to mend his heart, even though its not her responsibility. The drawback is she doesn't have the wisdom or experience that he has, and he fears he will ruin her blissful attitude toward love. She is innocent and eager to live a fairy tale.]


    from the faun forever gone
    in the towers of your honeycomb
    I'd a tore your hair out just to climb back darling

    [Inevitably, the love only brought her down, blighting her enthusiasm and innocence. The "towers of your honeycomb" represent the sweet natural framework of her dreams, her ideal love story. Like chumpstuff said, the 'tore your hair out' line is referring to the fairy tale Repunzel: He fell in love with her mystic innocence, so much that he would go along with it, almost beginning to believe in the mystique of it all.]

    when you're filling out your only form
    can you tell that itʼs just ceremon
    now you've added up to what you're from

    [I believe that her 'only form' that is 'just ceremon' refers to the ideal view of wedding vows being permanent, and it's custom never to be followed by a divorce form. She wants him to be her one and only. But over time she realizes that real love comes with pain, confusion, and burdens. She's 'added up' all her new found experiences to realize she is human, not a whimsical character in a love story.]

    build your tether rain-out from your fragments
    break the sailors table on your sacrum
    fuck the fiercest fables, I'm with Hagen

    [I'm going along with chumpstuff's cross reference from sacrum to sacral chakra being the balance of our emotions. Therefore, I understand these lines portraying the falling to pieces of her innocent and peaceful veneer, accepting the cascading of her idealistic views to acknowledge the real world, that love comes with a range of emotions that need to be balanced. I love how the rhythm changes here, implying the change in her attitude.]

    for the love, comes the burning young
    from the liver, sweating through your tongue

    [He notes in the first line here that youth are so enthusiastic to find love, but fire only lasts until the fuel is out. 'From the liver sweating through your tongue' means that her words are no longer coming from her heart, but they are digested and filtered (the livers function is to filter, aid digeststion, and maintain equilibrium in the body; it is equally as important as the human heart). To me this remarks that in order to maintain a relationship, one cannot always speak from their heart, but filter their feelings so neither partner is hurt.]

    well, youʼre standing on my sternum dont you climb down darling
    oh the sermons are the first to rest
    smoke on Sundays when youʼre drunk and dressed
    out the hollows where the swallow nests

    [The sternum protects the heart and lungs, therefore he is professing that she has control over his heart and life. He's fully in love, and he can't let her go. All of her innocent perceptions and fairy tales ('sermons') died fast, and she sinks into the state of reality that he was in when she found him. The last line is important to restoring contentment to the song. Swallows are symbolic of hope, new love, and happiness, and the 'hollows' represent the depths of her soul. Therefore, he is saying that hope and happiness continue to 'nest' or regenerate within her soul.]



    HopeTokenon May 27, 2011   Link
  • +7
    General CommentThis is my favorite track on Bon Iver and I've been trying to put it all together for a while. Before one concert, Justin introduced it with: "this song's about the towers we build up." In another he said it was about "a bottle of wine and some virginity. and the dorms." From there I sort of pieced together my interpretation:

    "For the love, Iʼd fallen on
    in the swampy August dawn
    what a mischief you would bring young darling!
    when the onus is not all your own
    when you're up for it before you've grown"

    So he falls in love. She brings "a mischief," upon him. I think the mischief is more of a problem he has to solve. Onus means burden, so she seems to take an unnecessary burden on herself, part of which is probably religion. I imagine that she's inexperienced (a virgin as Justin said) and wants to be with him but is very hesitant. She tries to tell herself she's ready, but knows she's not. She's up for it before she's grown, or ready.

    "From the faun forever gone
    in the towers of your honeycomb
    I'd a tore your hair out just to climb back darling
    when you're filling out your only form
    can you tell that itʼs just ceremon'
    now you've added up to what you're from"

    As Justin said, these are the towers we build up. We build up defenses and tend to not let people in easily. He wants to climb her tower and see her vulnerable and for real. He's desperate, he would "tear her hair out to climb back." The "form" he mentions I think is formality. She is being formal and stiff, probably moving slow and not taking anything too fast. He tells her that it's just cermony to be like that. It's just an old convention to go slow and build relationships up. He wants her to just jump in and throw caution to the wind.

    "Build your tether rain-out from your fragments
    break the sailor's table on your sacrum
    fuck the fiercest fables, I'm with Hagen"

    A tether is something that keeps you from going any further. It's a limit. So she has this tether built up keeping her from doing these things, and he wants her to break it. The last line here is one of my favorites. I think the "fiercest fables" are religion. I'm not sure what Hagen has to do with it, but I would guess he doesn't take God's word too seriously. She might have a strong faith, and therefore doesn't want to just give up her virginity to sin or whatever. He tells her to fuck all of that, it doesn't matter.

    "For the love, comes the burning young
    from the liver, sweating through your tongue
    well, youʼre standing on my sternum don't you climb down darling
    oh the sermons are the first to rest
    smoke on Sundays when youʼre drunk and dressed
    out the hollows where the swallow nests"

    This is where the bottle of wine comes into play. The liver reference shows that they're intoxicated. "Don't you climb down darling," is one of my favorite parts. She's finally there. She's let him past her defenses, but he can see her wanting to climb back down. He tells her to stay, reassures her. The sermons are the first to rest: religion is the first thing to be abandoned when you're drunk. She finally casts all doubts aside and lowers her inhibitions with the help of the wine. She lets him climb up her tower.

    Swallows can symbolize new beginnings, so I think there's something to that reference as well.

    Beautiful song. Justin Vernon is a genius.
    llscienceon August 04, 2011   Link
  • +3
    General CommentJustin Vernon's words right before he played this song last night.... "this next song... well you're 19, things happen, fuck it"
    kj19on March 16, 2012   Link
  • +2
    General Commentokay, i'm sorry but SACRAL CHAKRA??? its not such an innocent song you guys!!!
    "break the sailors table on your sacrum?"
    THAT PART IS ABOUT DOING IT. you know where your sacrum is right? low back. and where would that be in relationship to a table and breaking it? on the table. so where does that leave the girl? with sacrum on the table. how would she break it? it would be pretty hard to break by just laying there. i think you get it. also sailors pretty much always reference some type of sleaze, and are college boys any better than sleazy sailors? i think no.

    actually the song is ridiculously brilliant, and its about losing your innocence, and finding out who you are as an adult sexually and personally.
    "the sermons are the first to rest"
    oh aren't they in college?
    "filling out your only form"
    your BODY! you only get one.
    not a survey.........sheesh.

    and I'm pretty sure "fuck the fiersiest fables" is pretty literal. because isn't that what college is? living out some grand idea, PARTICULARLY sexually? like you are supposed to live out some dream of sleeping around and being free? but it hurts. hence the hagan part i'm thinking (who stabs someone in the back). because you're doing it, but your not really an adult yet, but you think you are supposed to, and it hurts, but you don't want to stop it either.

    hence:

    "your standing on my sternum don't climb down darling" pretty sure thats about weight on his chest. not that he's going to support someone. its about pressure, from a person, you get it.

    "smoke on sundays when you're drunk and dressed" what else would you do on sunday, freshman year?

    when it clicked, it was crazy. this man is FUCKING BRILLIANT. this song is, beyond words. so amazing

    gemmalove13on November 28, 2011   Link
  • +2
    General Commenti saw him play a hometown (Eau Claire) show last night and he said it was about the dorms at UW-Eau Claire which are called "the towers."
    lizzygon December 14, 2011   Link
  • +1
    Song MeaningDefinitely about young love, but there does seem to be some sense of forbideness to it.

    It is certainly his most erotic song. I don't get the posters trying to find a metaphor or spiritual meaning for every line, its pretty clearly about drunken sex with a young woman.

    "what a mischief you would bring young darling!
    when the onus is not all your own"
    (meaning the girl is not fully responsible for her actions - a minor)
    "when you’re up for it before you’ve grown"
    (not yet an adult)
    "from the faun forever gone"
    (innocence lost)
    "in the towers of your honeycomb... when you’re filling out your only form"
    (sexually active while still in puberty)
    "break the sailor’s table on your sacrum"
    (sacrum is the pelvic bone, not a fucking chakra)

    I love how he uses the allusion of Rapunzel (a tale of forbidden love) and then says "fuck the fables!".

    This has that feeling of a boy throwing pebbles at a girl's window and then climbing up to her window. Wouldn't be the only thing on the album with a John Huges feel to it. :)

    I also love the juxtaposition of "now you’ve added up to what you’re from" and then "build your tether rain-out from your fragments". talking about how adults are a culmination of their experiences and "where they're from", but that she's tied (to him - via the Rapunzel allusion?) with the pieces, not the whole.

    "well, youʼre standing on my sternum don’t you climb down darling"
    Another great line. You're standing on my heart - don't move!


    lostatlimboon June 24, 2011   Link
  • +1
    Song MeaningSaw Bon Iver last night in concert. Justin Vernon said the song was about drinking wine and losing your virginity in the dorms.
    njdc1919on August 03, 2011   Link
  • +1
    My Opiniontotally seeing some andrew bird influence in this one
    x0blongon October 20, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General Commentto clear up the whole "dorms" thing, Towers is a residence hall at university of wisconsin Eau-Claire, where JV must have stayed when he went to college there
    SeegerWWXCon November 02, 2011   Link

Add your thoughts

Log in now to tell us what you think this song means.

Don’t have an account? Create an account with SongMeanings to post comments, submit lyrics, and more. It’s super easy, we promise!

Back to top
explain