Written by Justin Vernon and DeYarmond Edison...
Climb
Is all we know
When thaw
Is not below us
No, can't grow up
In that iron ground
Claire, all too sore for sound

Bet
Is hardly shown
Scraped
Across the foam
Like they stole it
And oh, how they hold it

Claire, we nearly forfeit

I' I'm growing like the quickening hues
I' I'm telling darkness from lines on you
Over havens fora full and swollen morass, young habitat!
All been living alone, where the ice snap and the hold clast are known

Home
We're savage high
Come
We finally cry
Oh and we don it
Because it's right
Claire, I was too sore for sight

I' we're sewing up through the latchet greens
I' un-peel keenness, honey, bean for bean
Same white pillar tone as with the bone street sand is thrown where she stashed us at
All been living alone, where the cracks at in the low part of the stoning


Lyrics submitted by iquitmyscene, edited by Mellow_Harsher, NicoAdams, BDoG01

"Wash." as written by Justin Vernon

Lyrics © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.

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Wash. song meanings
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10 Comments

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  • +4
    General CommentI think this song is about every young person's desire to break away from the society they were born in and seek out their own modern opinion, or style.
    Eau Claire was the town Justin Vernon grew up in, so it seems appropriate.
    "Climb is all we know" (All youth starts out at the very beginning)
    "When thaw is not below us" (Thawing, like settling out)
    "No can't grow up in that iron ground" (Young opinions can't take root in a place where everybody already has their own strong opinions)
    "Bet is hardly shown" (Differences in thinking are not apparent)
    "...like they stole it, and oh how they hold it" (Elders keep differences locked up)

    "I'm growing like the quickening hues" (As he discovers the world around him, hues light up)
    "I'm telling darkness from lines on you" (He's realizing parts of his identity that had not been apparent before)
    "over havens fora full and swollen morass, young habitat!
    all been living alone, where the ice snap and the hold clast are known" (Life is growing where everything else is static)

    "home
    we're savage high
    come
    we finally cry
    oh and we don it
    because it's right
    Claire, I was too sore for sight" (When he finally finds himself, he is at the end of a long hard journey)

    "I... we're sewing up through the latchet greens
    I... un-peel keenness, honey, bean for bean" (He's rebuilding what he knows about basic morality)
    "same white pillar tone as with the bone street sand is thrown where she stashed us at
    all been living alone, where the cracks at in the low part of the stoning"(He's discovering the society has a fatal flaw at its roots)
    thatdanghillon September 09, 2011   Link
  • +3
    General CommentIn Q Magazine, he says "Wash. could be Washington state. Really it's about the March rains in Eau Claire, which wash the snow away."
    llscienceon September 04, 2011   Link
  • +2
    My OpinionOne of my favorites! This song, along with so many other Bon Iver songs, need to be felt. I think interpretation of lyrics will always be to personalized and subjective because of the vagueness of some of the lyrics. But to add something new (I think), the second last verse seems to me to be talking about returning home after having grown immensely and having a different position in some way.

    Bon Iver's songs are best served on a good winter day! They have really lived up to their name. :)
    john785on May 06, 2012   Link
  • +1
    Song MeaningA lot of references to not being able to grow because of the winter freeze, but then, when things do finally warm and thaw... well "over havens fora full and swollen morass, young habitat!" sort of says it all.
    lostatlimboon June 24, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentBeautiful song. Maybe it's about the inevitable decay of a relationship where the issues finally come to the surface... ("cracks at in the low part of the stoning")

    Unreal.
    brookjohnstonon May 24, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General Commentjust gorgeous. so appreciative of the leak but everyone go buy the album! when i first heard this i thought he was talking about his hometown, eau claire. who knows. its just beautiful.
    rockisgroovyon June 03, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentAre these the official lyrics? I hear at least a few things differently and am unsure whether it's his pronunciation.

    What I hear:

    Claire
    is all we know
    when [thought/thaw]
    is not below us
    no, can't grow up
    in that iron ground
    Claire, all too sore for sound

    bed
    is hardly shown
    scraped
    across the foam
    like they stole it
    and, oh, how they hold it

    Claire, we nearly forfeit

    I'm grown like the quickening hues
    I'm telling darkness from lines on you
    over havens for a full and swollen morass, your habitat!
    I'll be living alone, where the ice snap and the hold clast are known

    home
    we're savage high
    come
    we finally cry
    oh and we done it
    because it's right
    Claire, eyes too sore for sight

    We're sown up through latchet greens
    Un-peel keenness, honey, bean for bean
    same white pillar tone as with the bone street sand is thrown where she stashed a sack
    I'll be living alone, where the [crack sat/crack's at] in the low part of the stone
    cosmogonicon June 27, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think it definitely about the relationship one has with their own hometown. I can especially relate here, because I'm from a small town in Nodak. The way the town is personified rings very true. I believe that the place where you grow up, will become a very strong character in your life, for better or worse. The feelings always end up being somewhere between love and hate.

    "climb
    is all we know
    when thaw
    is not below us
    no, can't grow up
    in that iron ground
    Claire, all too sore for sound"

    I think this part of the song is about people trying to rise up out of home and never quite making it. From my experience, the people who never moved past their town, were never really able to leave their comfort zones and do anything with themselves. Sometimes I wonder what my friends would be like in a different setting. There is a certain sadness that moves in after to many winters in freezing flatlands.

    SparkleNShineon August 11, 2011   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationThere's something Justin says right at the end of Wash. that I can't get my head across to what he actually says or what the lyrics to it are, but right around 4:04 he wails out (and in my mind) it sounds like he says “There’s nothing else to loose, give us the pride…give us the pride” Or something along those lines, does anyone know what he says?
    LivingSoon October 11, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentDid anyone notice that there is a rhythm that sounds like ice cracking in the background? Totally stunning effect.
    Windgirlon December 11, 2012   Link

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