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Kanye West, Jazz Inspire New Bon Iver LP

Holed up in his barn studio, Justin Vernon promises new CD in 2011

Kanye West, Jazz Inspire New Bon Iver LP
Ethan Miller/Amy Sussman/Getty Images for The New Yorker
September 16, 2010

On Bon Iver's 2008 debut album, For Emma, Forever Ago, frontman Justin Vernon created a gorgeous mix of haunting multistacked harmonies and gentle acoustic-guitar strums. For the follow-up, due the middle of next year, Vernon mines an entirely new sound. "I don't really fancy myself just an acoustic-guitar player and singer," he says, promising a Bon Iver album that is "denser, darker and fuller."

Sneak Preview: The Story Behind Bon Iver and Kanye West’s Collaboration

Instead of building songs around his acoustic, Vernon has invited session musicians to join in at his barn studio in northwest Wisconsin. "I'm trying to figure out, 'Will the pedal steel work with the French horn?'" he says. "'How does a bass saxophone work with a double-bass drum?'"

Another influence was Kanye West, who invited Vernon to Hawaii to contribute to the rapper's upcoming LP. "Kanye pushes boundaries and does really weird fucking shit," Vernon says. "But he never gives up on the song. I immediately related to him."

This is a story from the September 16th, 2010 issue of Rolling Stone.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

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Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

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