Bon Iver – “8 (circle)” Lyrics Meaning

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Written By Joanna Landrum

Joanna holds a BSc in English Literature and uses her expertise in literary analysis to uncover the deeper meaning of her favorite songs.

Bon Iver’s “8 (circle)” is a beautifully complex song that explores themes of love, loss, and self-reflection. The songwriter, Justin Vernon, seems to be grappling with past relationships and their impact on him. Through poetic and abstract lyrics, he reflects on what he has held onto and let go, his challenges, and his journey toward self-understanding and acceptance. The song isn’t about a specific person but is a personal reflection and a universal message about the complexities of life and love. Vernon might have written this song as a form of catharsis, to understand his own feelings and to connect with listeners who have experienced similar emotions.

“8 (circle)” is a song that feels like a journey through memory and emotion. It’s filled with metaphors, raw emotion, and a sense of introspection that will leave you pondering your own life and experiences. Whether you’re a long-time Bon Iver fan or just discovering his music, this song is a must-listen and a must-understand.


“8 (circle)” Lyrics Meaning

“Philosophize your figure” – Right from the start, Vernon is encouraging us to reflect and think deeply about ourselves. It’s like he’s saying, “Look at yourself, your life, and your choices. What do they mean?”

“What I have and haven’t held” – This line suggests a sense of regret or reflection on past relationships or experiences, contemplating what was embraced and what was let go.

“You called and I came, stayed tall through it all” – Vernon might be talking about being there for someone, standing strong, even when it was tough.

“Fall and fixture just the same thing” – Life’s ups and downs, the falls and the stability, it’s all part of the same journey.

“I’m standing in your street now, no, And I carry his guitar” – These lines could symbolize a connection to the past, perhaps a relationship or a mentor, and carrying forward their influence.

“I’ma make it half the night, Hall light wishes” – Maybe this is about making it through tough times, finding light and hope in small moments.

“I’m an Astuary King” – An ‘astuary’ is a place where a river meets the sea, which might represent a meeting point in life, a transition, or a moment of clarity.

“Unburdened and becoming” – Finally, a sense of letting go and evolving, becoming a better, unburdened version of oneself.

Throughout the song, Vernon uses abstract imagery and metaphors to convey his message, creating a beautiful piece that encourages reflection and self-acceptance.

The Story Behind “8 (circle)”

Justin Vernon, the creative force behind Bon Iver, is known for his introspective and often cryptic songwriting. “8 (circle)” is no exception, and understanding the context of when and why it was written adds another layer to its meaning.

Vernon was in a period of self-reflection and change when writing this song. He had taken a break from Bon Iver, questioning the band’s future and his own artistic direction. This song, along with the rest of the album “22, A Million,” marked a significant shift in sound and lyrical style for Bon Iver, moving towards a more experimental, electronic sound and abstract, introspective lyrics.

“8 (circle)” seems to be a culmination of this period of change and introspection for Vernon. Through the abstract lyrics and emotional soundscape, he reflects on his past, his relationships, and his own self, grappling with feelings of loss, regret, and the desire for change and acceptance.

This song is a beautiful example of how music can be a form of catharsis, a way to process and understand our emotions and experiences. Vernon has created a piece that not only reflects his own journey but also resonates with listeners, encouraging introspection and self-acceptance.