Bon Iver

Ever since Bon Iver’s eponymous second album was released in June, there’s been contention over its closing track, “Beth/Rest”—even from those who loved everything else about the record. While most of Bon Iver is made up of muted, soulful, and stripped-down tunes, “Beth/Rest,” with its smooth jazzy electric keyboards and saxophone solos, is a direct flashback to Christopher Cross’ 1980 smash, “Sailing.” Rolling Stone used the word “schmaltz” to describe the song, Slant magazine said it was “hilariously outdated,” and AllMusic.com called it “the theme song to a horrible ‘80s movie about unicorns.” But the song’s squealing solos and reverbing percussion don’t take away from its absolute poetic grace—we say it’s the loveliest and most memorable song on the record. The stunning solo piano version of “Beth/Rest” that Bon Iver recently performed for NPR’s World Café—the sax and electronics are gone—further attests to the song’s genuine emotional power and to Justin Vernon’s brilliant intuition as a songwriter. With Other Lives. ERIN K. THOMPSON

Mon., Sept. 26, 7:30 p.m., 2011

 
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