Meaning of “8 (circle)” by Bon Iver

Written By Michael Miller

Michael is a music teacher and professional cellist. He loves uncovering the deeper meaning of popular songs.

“8 (circle)” by Bon Iver is a hauntingly beautiful piece that dives deep into the complexities of human emotions, introspection, and the search for forgiveness and understanding. The song weaves through themes of self-reflection, love, loss, and the journey towards self-awareness and redemption. It’s not directly about a person but rather about the emotional and philosophical journey one undergoes through different stages of life. Justin Vernon, Bon Iver’s frontman, crafts lyrics that are both cryptic and deeply evocative, inviting listeners to ponder their meanings and relate them to their personal experiences. The song can be seen as a reflection on the struggles and revelations Vernon has encountered, making it a deeply personal yet universally relatable anthem.

Craving a deep dive into the soul-stirring lyrics of “8 (circle)” by Bon Iver? This song is not just a musical journey but a philosophical quest that weaves through the fabric of life itself. Keep reading to unravel the layers of meaning behind this mesmerizing track.

“8 (circle)” Lyrics Meaning

The opening line, “Philosophize your figure,” immediately sets a tone of introspection and self-examination, suggesting a contemplation of one’s existence and the tangible and intangible things one holds. This idea of grappling with what we have and haven’t experienced is a recurring theme throughout the song, painting a picture of life’s fleeting nature and the constant search for meaning.

“You called and I came, stayed tall through it all” could symbolize the response to life’s challenges, the commitment to face them head-on, and the resilience shown in the midst of adversity. The mention of “Fall and fixture, just the same thing” hints at the cyclical nature of life, where falling and fixing are part of the same continuum, suggesting that our struggles and recoveries are intrinsically linked.

The refrain, “Say nothing of my fable, no,” might suggest a desire to leave behind one’s past, to not be defined by the stories we tell ourselves or that others tell about us. This line serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of moving forward and not being anchored by our histories.

“I’m underneath your tongue” and “I’m standing in your street now, no” evoke a sense of closeness and immediacy, perhaps indicating the singer’s presence in someone’s life as an underlying thought or a memory that lingers in the mind and spaces once shared.

The complex imagery of “And I carry his guitar” could symbolize the burden of carrying on someone else’s legacy or the weight of memories and past relationships. This line, coupled with “But I know I’m going in,” reflects a determination to proceed, despite not fully understanding or being ready for what lies ahead.

“Not sure what forgiveness is” speaks volumes about the human condition, the struggle to forgive ourselves and others, and the ambiguity that often surrounds the act of forgiveness. It’s a candid admission of the difficulty in navigating the waters of reconciliation and understanding.

“We’ve galvanized the squall of it all” could represent a rallying cry to face life’s storms head-on, suggesting that through our struggles, we find the strength and resilience to continue. The imagery of leaving behind the harbour signifies a departure from safety and comfort, venturing into the unknown in pursuit of growth and change.

The chorus, with its repetitive nature, emphasizes the relentless pursuit of understanding and self-realization, despite the obstacles and challenges that may arise. The references to running, crawling, and the fires symbolize the various states of struggle and perseverance one experiences in life.

“I’m an Astuary King” is one of the most cryptic lines, possibly referring to a dominion over a place where fresh and saltwater meet, symbolizing the confluence of different aspects of life and the unity of opposites. This line, along with “Unburdened and becoming,” points towards a state of liberation and transformation, shedding the weights that hold us back and embracing the journey of becoming who we are meant to be.

The song’s conclusion, with its evocative questions and reflections on love, labor, and the essence of existence, leaves listeners with a sense of wonder and introspection. It challenges us to consider our place in the world, the nature of our struggles, and the possibility of finding peace and purpose amidst the chaos of life.

Why Was “8 (circle)” Written?

To understand the genesis of “8 (circle),” it’s essential to consider Justin Vernon’s state of mind and the circumstances surrounding its creation. This song, like much of Bon Iver’s work, emerges from a period of profound introspection and personal turmoil. Vernon is known for his introspective lyrics and unique approach to songwriting, often drawing from his own experiences to explore universal themes of love, loss, and the search for meaning.

At the time of writing “8 (circle),” Vernon was likely grappling with questions of identity, purpose, and connection. The song’s introspective nature and existential queries reflect a desire to understand the self and the world around it, suggesting a journey through personal struggles towards a greater understanding and acceptance of life’s complexities. The themes of forgiveness, resilience, and transformation indicate a search for redemption and peace, both personally and artistically.

“8 (circle)” can be seen as a culmination of Vernon’s experiences, a meditation on the nature of existence, and the continuous process of becoming and unbecoming. It’s a testament to the power of music as a means of exploration and expression, offering listeners a window into the artist’s soul and a mirror to reflect on their own lives. Through this song, Vernon invites us to embark on our philosophical journey, encouraging us to confront our fears, embrace our imperfections, and find beauty in the chaos of existence.