At this stage, we just need to take it as fact that Justin Vernon can do no wrong…
The B-Side to the physical release (remember those?) of the lead single from “Bon Iver” is a simply breathtaking cover of Bonnie Raitt’s version of “I Can’t Make You Love Me”.
The story goes that despite many subsequent efforts, Raitt was never able to recapture the emotion that poured into the original recording of the song – said recording having been completed in one take. Many other recordings of the song are available – everyone from George Michael to Bonnie Tyler, Kenny Rogers to Boys II Men have had a go – none of which even come close to the desperation and devastating original.
I once remarked that Justin Vernon was adorned with a voice that bring a grown man to tears. The marriage of that vocal with such a beautiful song is perfect. The emotional depth of his falsetto vocal is exceptional and breathes life into a jaded and broken track. He performed it live on Jimmy Fallon a few weeks ago to huge acclaim. Though the studio version is that little bit more polished, it loses none of its tragic soul.
Below is the aforementioned live version on Fallon, while the studio version is doing the rounds on Soundcloud, iTunes and plenty more. If you really feel the need, go out and buy the physical single.