Love in its infinite nuances often shows a certain feeling that is to hear the person you love as someone already known, even if it is assured that it is not. The beloved is known for the first time, but it is perceived as a long note.
Hence the common expression “soul mates” which specifies the fact that the two souls in love symbolically come from the same place, and have the same blood, because they come from the same mother and the same family.
The verses of Bon Iver introduce this meaning at the beginning of the song “Blood Bank”, speaking of brothers and their blood that is also similar in colour.
Let’s see the words:
Well, I met you at the blood bank
We were looking at the bags
Wondering if any of the colors
Matched any of the names we knew on the tags
You said: “See, look, that’s yours
Stacked on top with your brother’s
See how they resemble one another’s
Even in their plastic little covers?”
When the two protagonists of the song meet at the blood bank, they wonder about the blood bags, stacked one on top of the other. Is it possible to recognise the owners by colour, and see if there is a correspondence between the colour of the blood and the names known on the bags’ tags?
The woman recognises the sack of the singer and that of her brother, which also resemble each other in their covers (cases – covers).
For now, let’s go ahead.
In the chorus, Vernon talks about the “secret you know”. That secret seems to be something that has to do with the family, with the family and with being brothers.
Having the same blood is evidence, something that should not be discovered, but which is known a priori, even if it is difficult to prove it with words (“But you don’t know how to tell”).
At the same time, the chorus turns to the person who is next to the singer and makes them meet in the car in the following verses.
Then the snow started falling
We were stuck out in your car
You were rubbing both of my hands
Chewing on a candy bar
You said “Ain’t this just like the present
To be showing up like this?”
As a moon waned to crescent
We started to kiss
The snow begins to fall, and the two are stuck in the car in a white context that contrasts, in the image that the singer builds, with the red of the blood.
Snow, white, seems to help define the objects of the world more straightforwardly, because it contrasts in colour because it is the set of all the colours and therefore a reference point. White is the colour to compare with all the colours of the world to perceive them at their best.
The woman who is with Vernon tells him: “Ain’t this just like the present
To be showing up like this?“, and in this verse the meanings seem multiple and paradoxical: It reveals something already known and helps to perceive the present.
Perceiving the present is complex, it is one of the goals of meditation or psychological techniques such as mindfulness.
We are constantly in the grip of time, struck by the future and the past. We think about what we should do to be able to realise ourselves, we think about future problems, but also about beautiful things. We think of the past to what happened yesterday, or what happened about twenty years ago.
We think a lot, but we can’t easily be in the present. The present is a word that we often pronounce, but we rarely live.
Feeling the present is difficult, and it means moving away from every other thought that concerns tomorrow or yesterday. Only now and here, here and now, right now, right where I am.
It is difficult to perceive the present, but when you succeed it is an overwhelming experience, and you feel that time no longer exists. The complex evolution of events stops together, as does the fluid flow of time. Feeling the present is an experience that resembles intuition.
And that’s what our protagonists live in, but when we listen to the song we live it too. The protagonists of Blood Bank feel the present that suddenly shows up in a place that seems strangely safe, forced into the cold inside a car while it is snowing.
The moon waned to crescent
In the song, the moon enters strongly and indicates the moment in which the two begin to kiss:
As the moon waned to crescent
we starter to kiss
The expression “As the moon waned to crescent”, contains an overlap of meanings, which is one of the beautiful possibilities that poetry has to resemble the unconscious way of being of our mind. In short, poetry as the unconscious is capable of enclosing in one single verse many different meanings, even if these are in opposition to each other, communicating one thing and the other at the same time.
It is an English expression that indicates the moment when the moon enters the last quarter and becomes a crescent.
Here is the overlapping meaning, which English contains in its vocabulary, in which two opposite meanings are both true. Waning and growing, and this is where they perceive the present, in this temporal superposition.
There is a last meaning that we can read in the text of Blood bank, if we use a method of psychological analysis.
To do this, we must focus on the dense words that Vernon, the author, uses in the song. Dense words are found in the points where the song reaches peaks of intensity, musical or narrative, where the listener becomes more excited.
An important peak is in the final. Let’s read:
And I said: “I know it well”
That secret that we know
That we don’t know how to tell
I’m in love with your honor
I’m in love with your cheeks
What’s that noise up the stairs, babe?
Is that Christmas morning creaks?
The dense words here are love, cheeks, noise, babe, creaks, morning, honor, Christmas, and some words from the previous chorus that structurally corresponds to the final one: teases, good girl, running.
This list of words defines the love sung in Blood Bank.
Love, cheeks, child, runs, noise, squeaks (of stairs), annoyance, Christmas morning, honor, good girl.
If we Extract them from the logical discourse of poetry, it is possible to take new meanings, which are more hidden and not evident at first reading.
The dense words are given here speak of the secret behind love: a daughter or a son.
Love, cheeks and child more clearly reveal the secret.
The words runs, noise, squeaks and annoyance recall the other intrusive aspect of love and having children, which is made of annoyance, of lost stillness, of noise and absence of silence.
Bon Iver, blood and family
In this magnificent song by Bon Iver, Vernon gives us the chance to feel what it means to be in love, which is something essential for the family dimension.
Those who fall in love have known each other for a long time, because love is the family of the past and of the future that come into contact with each other, confront each other, and clash. And that’s where the comparison-clash should be thought, to make sure that their relationship and the future ones, not will be guided by relationship their past.
The past is intrusive and can overwhelm the present which becomes impossible to perceive clearly.
The Bon Iver’s song can help us to become aware of the fact that falling in love means to relate to personal dimensions that do not see the future and the past as two separate entities, but intertwined and coexisting.
Thinking about how these dimensions coexist, this is part of psychological counselling.