Bon Iver—bastardized by the ignorant Twittersphere as “Bonny Bear” who were ridiculed thereafter by the Tumblr “Who is Bon Iver,” derivative of last year’s infamous “Who is Arcade Fire”—won two Grammys last night. That is pretty good for some kids from Eau Claire, Wisconsin. It was not all that great for the Grammys, as Justin Vernon took his acceptance speech as a chance to address the problems within the music industry.
Justin Vernon already spoke out about his group turning down an opportunity to perform at the Grammys because they were asked to perform with another group or not their own music. He felt that it was a poor decision made by people who were not about “rock n’ roll” and generally detached from the music process, as well as the vitality and idealism of young bands.
In this speech he takes a similar stand against the entire awards show mentality, but he does it in a “Minnesota nice” fashion. He hits the right note between self-righteousness and genuine appreciation for the praise his music just received. There is an element of passive-aggression, but he definitely did not squander an opportunity to express gratitude for the people that were not directly involved in music making but played an integral role. Particularly classy was his reference to the “non-nominees,” a generalized jab that one can’t help be mad at when it comes in a package as innocuously dressed as Justin Vernon.
It’s really hard to accept this award, but well there’s so much talent out here on the stage. And there’s a lot of talent that’s not…here, tonight. And it’s also hard to accept because, ya know, when I started to make songs I did it for the inherent reward of making songs. But, so I’m a little bit uncomfortable up here. But with that discomfort, I do have a sense of gratitude. I want to say thank you to the nominees, all the non-nominees who have never been here—and never will be here—all the bands I toured with, all the bands that inspired me, all the artists. I also want to say…sorry…I also want to say ‘thank you’ to all the voters of course—sweet…sweet hook-up. All my bandmates—old and new—the city of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, Jagjaguwar—my label, for being, well, for both having transparency and friendships—and also my friends and family, Kitty, and of course most of all my parents, thank you guys.