Skinny Love-A Skinny Tight Rope to Walk

My my my, my my my, my-my my my, what have we come across here? Skinny Love was originally written by an American Indie Folk band called Bon Iver, and is not only able to show how a song can create more feelings beside happiness, but also a testament to how white my music taste is. It’s a song that I learned about from a good friend of mine, her being more familiar with the cover by Birdie, a song which I will touch more upon at the end of this post. So, without further adeu, I must start with how I do every other post, the song and the lyrics.


Come on skinny love just last the year
Pour a little salt we were never here
My, my, my, my, my, my, my, my
Staring at the sink of blood and crushed veneer

I tell my love to wreck it all
Cut out all the ropes and let me fall
My, my, my, my, my, my, my, my
Right in the moment this order’s tall

I told you to be patient
I told you to be fine
I told you to be balanced
I told you to be kind
In the morning I’ll be with you
But it will be a different “kind”
I’ll be holding all the tickets
And you’ll be owning all the fines

Come on skinny love what happened here
Suckle on the hope in light brassiere
My, my, my, my, my, my, my, my
Sullen load is full; so slow on the split

I told you to be patient
I told you to be fine
I told you to be balanced
I told you to be kind
Now all your love is wasted?
Then who the hell was I?

Now I’m breaking at the britches
And at the end of all your lines
Who will love you?
Who will fight?
Who will fall far behind?
Ooh, ooh


Released in 2007 on Bon Iver’s debut album, “For Emma, Forever Ago”, Skinny Love is a song that for me and others I’ve asked, elicits a feeling of sadness, regret, fear, and somehow, joy. The song is one of my newest favourites, especially since listening to it on repeat for several days while writing out this analysis, nearly nonstop; my only break from this was a “Weird Al” Yankovic concert several days ago. This song piqued my interest from my first listening of it, it’s a song that is just begging for analysis, so I wish to tackle it. The way I do this is enough to drive a man mad, but I love it.


Come on skinny love just last year (Line 1). This, to me, indicates that that was when the love either started, ended, or was at full force, though it was a “Skinny” love, one easily broken and betrayed. Pour a little salt we were never here (Line 2). Salt has healing properties, but is painful in the process. To me, this is a way of saying that either one or both of them tried to get over the breakup too quickly, leaving them in more pain, hoping to heal faster. Staring at the sink of blood and crushed veneer (Line 4). I think this means the speaker’s been hurting, maybe deliberately hurting himself, or maybe accidentally.

I tell my love to wreck it all, cut out all the ropes and let me fall (Lines 5-6). The speaker told his love, maybe inadvertently, to end it. He said or did something to the ex that drove them away. Now he falls, having no more support into sadness, depression, perhaps. Right in the moment this order’s tall (Line 8). He thinks that right now, remembering and letting go is too tall an order, but he does, and…

I told you to be patient I told you to be fine, I told you to be balanced, and I told you to be kind (Line 9-12). He remembers all the bad things he did, telling his love to be different, perhaps making them feel unloved. In the morning I’ll be with you, but it will be a different “kind”. (Lines 13-14). He sees that person again, but just as so called “friends”. He knows he wants the person back, but he couldn’t. I‘ll be holding all the tickets, and you’ll be owing all the fines (Lines 15-16). He feels like that person owes him something, or maybe he owes that person something, worried that sadness will come across as weakness.

Come on skinny love, what happened here? (Line 17). How did it come to this? Why did we have to end up the way we did? Suckle on the hope in lite brassiere/ Sullen load is full; so slow on the split (Lines 18,20). Take the hope away from him for any chance of rekindling this love, and do it in a demeaning way to boot, then replace that with a sullen load, but wait, slow down, it’s getting to heavy to carry this burden.

Now all your love was waste? Well then who the hell was I? (Lines 25-26). Was what they had really nothing to the ex? Could they move on at the drop of a hat? Now I’m breaking at the britches,  and at the end of all your lines (Lines 27-28). He’s disheveled, a broken, husk of a man, sadness consumes him, and as a last hope…

Who will love you? Who will fight? Who will fall far behind? (Lines 29-31). He pleads with the lost love, asking who else would love them like him, who would fight for them, and most of all, who would fall for them like he once did?


Now, I’d like to bring up a cover of this song, and how it changes it, in my eyes, from one about loss to one about manipulation leading to eventual loss, then rekindling for the worse. This version is by Birdy.

Every word is exactly the same, but the song feels like it’s borrowed heavily from the regretful side of musical storytelling, akin to Wrecking Ball, it’s much slower, sadder, and is sung in a high female range, that with the more free style of the singing, making it sound, to me, at least, like a song about someone manipulating another with sadness, fear, and threats. “I’ll be holding all the tickets, you’ll be owing all the fines” “I told you…” “Who will love you? Who will fight?”

I correct, am I wrong? Should I stop doing indie songs no one has heard of and do more popular tracks? Tell me your thoughts in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you.

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