Love Letter To A Record: Lincoln Lim On Bon Iver’s ‘For Emma, Forever Ago’

Many of us can link a certain album to pivotal moments in our lives. Whether it’s the first record you bought with your own money, the chord you first learnt to play on guitar, the song that soundtracked your first kiss, the album that got you those awkward and painful pubescent years or the one that set off light bulbs in your brain and inspired you to take a big leap of faith into the unknown – music is often the catalyst for change in our lives and can even help shape who we become.

In this series, Music Feeds asks artists to reflect on their relationship with music and share with us stories about the effect music has had on their lives.

Lincoln Lim – For Emma, Forever Ago by Bon Iver (2007)

CONTENT WARNING: The following article discusses suicidal thoughts

You don’t get much time when the police tell you they’re taking you to mental hospital. 5 minutes with a custodian standing outside my room was all I got to grab what I could to help me last through a month-long warding. So logically, I took the necessities: an empty notebook, a pencil, and a bootleg copy of For Emma, Forever Ago by Bon Iver.

Those songs became my mantras over the weeks that followed; the whispers in the mornings that gave me the strength to rouse myself out of bed and the lullabies that ushered sleep into my restless mind.

I’ve always been a fan of Justin Vernon’s poetic lyric writing, his private metaphors that an outsider could never hope to intimately understand, and this album is arguably the single best showcase of his mastery of introspective, expressive and honest storytelling.

But that’s precisely why I think I never truly understood it before this pivotal point in my life. Because to get to grips with this record, to really, really resonate with it, requires you to be in the same place Justin was when he wrote it. To lose everything, isolate yourself in a cabin in the woods to confront your inner demons and be honest with them and yourself.

And that’s when everything he wrote made sense to me, all at once. Those metaphors that seemed foreign and too personal for me to ever understand gained context, becoming so apt for describing my feelings in moments that I couldn’t have written it better myself.

I got through that period, and it was then, after twenty-seven attempts on my own life, that I finally felt understood in a way that nothing else had come close to making me feel.

So, thank you Bon Iver and thank you Justin Vernon, for getting me through the depths of the dark ages of my life, for making me feel less alone and for reminding me that sometimes, great music is all you need to save a life.

For help or information regarding mental health, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636.

Following on from the success of his previous singles ‘Her’ and ‘Alive’, Singapore-based indie-folk artist Lincoln Lim has returned with his glowing new single ‘Losing’ – the third part of his five-part series of releases.

It’s a slice of heartfelt, uplifting and masterfully woven indie-folk that is nothing short of divine and you can wrap your ears around it below.

To coincide with the release, Lincoln will soon be announcing his return to Australia, presenting a live show that has seen him become a staple of the local scene in Singapore for the last eleven years, so stay tuned!


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