Song of the Day: Skinny Love by Bon Iver

“Skinny Love” was the first single to be released from Bon Iver’s debut album, For Emma, Forever Ago. Justin Vernon wrote and recorded the album in his father’s isolated log cabin in north Wisconsin, where he had retreated to following the break up of a relationship and his former band, DeYarmond Edison, plus a bout of mononucleosis.


Come on skinny love just last the year
Pour a little salt we were never here
My, my, my, my, my, my, my, my
Staring at the sink of blood and crushed veneer

I tell my love to wreck it all
Cut out all the ropes and let me fall
My, my, my, my, my, my, my, my
Right in the moment this order’s tall

And I told you to be patient
And told you to be fine
And I told you to be balanced
And I told you to be kind
In the morning I’ll be with you
But it will be a different “kind”
I’ll be holding all the tickets
And you’ll be owning all the fines

Come on skinny love what happened here
Suckle on the hope in lite brassiere
My, my, my, my, my, my, my, my
Sullen load is full; so slow on the split

And I told you to be patient
And I told you to be fine
And I told you to be balanced
And I told you to be kind
And now all your love is wasted?
And then who the hell was I?
And now I’m breaking at the britches
And at the end of all your lines

Who will love you?
Who will fight?
Who will fall far behind?


Pitchfork suggested that “Skinny Love” is about “Christy,” Bon Iver frontman Justin Vernon’s former girlfriend. Vernon disagreed: “To say that ‘Skinny Love’ is about Christy would not be entirely accurate. We dated and she’s an incredibly important person that I lived with for a long time, but it’s about that time in a relationship that I was going through; you’re in a relationship because you need help, but that’s not necessarily why you should be in a relationship. And that’s skinny. It doesn’t have weight. Skinny love doesn’t have a chance because it’s not nourished.” Vernon added: “Part of the trouble with the old haunting love, is that it f–ks with your future loves, and can damn and/or ambush your relationships.”

The song was used in the first episode of Grey’s Anatomy‘s fifth season. The digital download track “Skinny Love” was selected to be iTunes (UK) single of the week and was available for free during that time, as well as being featured as the track of the day on National Public Radio. On October 6, 2008, “Skinny Love” was featured in the NBC series Chuck (season 2, episode 3). On December 11, 2008, Bon Iver performed “Skinny Love” on the Late Show with David Letterman.On January 26, 2009, “Skinny Love” was announced at #21 by the Australian national radio station Triple J in the annual Hottest 100 countdown of the previous year’s best songs. In July 2009, “Skinny Love” was announced at #92 in Triple J’s Hottest 100 of All Time countdown. In June 2013, “Skinny Love” was announced at #16 in Triple J’s Hottest 100 of the Last 20 Years countdown.

Bon Iver

Origin Eau Claire, Wisconsin, United States
Genres Indie folk, folk rock, baroque pop
Years active 2007–present
Labels Jagjaguwar, 4AD
Associated acts DeYarmond Edison
Volcano Choir
The Shouting Matches
Kanye West
James Blake
Field Report
Members Justin Vernon
Michael Noyce
Sean Carey
Matthew McCaughan
C.J. Camerieri
Michael Lewis
Colin Stetson
Greg Leisz
Rob Moose
Reginald Pace

image by `yuumei

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