Bon Iver Debuts "I Can't Make You Love Me" Cover On Fallon

Instead of performing “Calgary” on Jimmy Fallon last night, Bon Iver offered a modified version of that Bon Iver single’s B-Side, the remake of Bonnie Raitt’s 1991 smash “I Can’t Make You Love Me” complete with a taste of 1989 via a “Nick Of Time” coda. Switching things up a bit for Late Night, he started it off with a swatch of Donny Hathaway’s “A Song For You.” As the above photo suggests, it was pretty smooth:

Vernon also sat down with Fallon and discussed the new album, the old album, his voice, etc.

For your Zune:

Download Bon Iver’s 10 best cover songs here.

Bon Iver is out 6/21 via Jagjaguwar. Sing along.

Comments (29)
  1. Donny Hathaway recorded “A Song For You,” but it was written by Leon Russell.

    • There’s always that guy in the room…

      • Nothing wrong with giving Leon Russell a little credit.
        Lord knows he doesn’t get enough.
        I wouldn’t take it personally.
        Great article and thanks for posting the audio link.

        For the record: Leon Russell, Ray Charles, and Willie Nelson trading verses on “A Song for You” is one of the most powerful things I’ve ever seen. Seriously, pour some scotch and wait until Ray comes in. Most times I cry.

      • What is it with Stereogum *and* Pitchfork both calling “A Song For You” a Donny Hathaway tune? Not only did Leon Russell write it, he recorded it and put it on his debut solo album a full year before Hathaway covered it for his own second record. Dozens of people recorded “A Song for You”–you might as well call it an Andy Williams (who took it to #82 on the charts) or Carpenters song. I guess it’s because Hathaway has some kind of cred while Russell is, unjustifiably, a semi-forgotten classic rock footnote, but this attribution is just incorrect. There’s no reason to single out Hathaway in relation to Vernon’s cover.

        • Vernon and Fallon both referred to it as a Hathaway song.
          I think that’s the version Vernon has dialed in on repeat.

          Blogs are just posting the video, not wikipedia’ing who to attribute the song that Bon Iver used as an intro to a Bonnie Raitt song, you know? Stuff gets overlooked. Nobody’s fault really, but hopefully it draws some attention back to ol’ Leon. He deserves it. Mad Dogs & Englishmen, y’all.

  2. Is this an American Idol audition?

  3. Well that was fucking horrible.

  4. It really was horrible.

    • Not his best performance (for sure), but probably the most vulnerable I’ve ever seen him and his voice. no harmonies, no guitar, standing in a spotlight singing a bonnie raitt song in front of a grand piano. it’s uncomfortable, but it’s a pretty incredible thing to see on late night tv.

      I don’t think there is anywhere on earth he wanted to be other than on that stage with Phil Cook paying homage to Bonnie Raitt in the raw. It’s not my favorite Bon Iver moment but it’s everything I love about Justin Vernon – a generous dude who loves music and goes with his gut. I can live with that. And I’ll probably watch it a lot for that.

      • Im sorry he is a weak performer. I’ve seen him live. It wasn’t impressive at all. The more music he releases post for emma the more I realize that he stumbled onto something that worked, but cant truly recreate it. That doesn’t mean he needs to regurgitate anything it just means that he has not been able to recreate the magic that once was there. I always felt that this would be the case there are moments even on for emma that felt sophomoric and more like bad taste or mistakes than artistic license. I t seems to have come to to a true culmination on self titled. It spends most of its time bordering on cheesy.

        • the cheesy stuff is the stuff i find most interesting. but anyway the new album for the most part bores me too. i just have no interest in hearing a man with a pretty voice sing pretty things over delicate guitars. yes he did that on the first album, but he had memorable hooks. this album doesnt have that. this performance was definitely awkward but i liked it.

    • I don’t know about horrible…But, ya it wasn’t the best

  5. I think the previous two comments have some offs-to-fuck.

  6. I thought it was pretty amazing and beautiful. I love watching music done in a more raw way with just one instrument and a voice (which is why I love La Blogotheque). I honestly thought after watching that the comments were going to be about how great it was – it was gutsy, well done, and showed that those Raitt songs aren’t trite or “cheesy” like most people think, but actually very well written and emotional when the overproduction is stripped from it.

    Oh, and it certainly didn’t seem like an American Idol audition. Every time someone sings next to a piano, is that an American Idol audition?

    • Not at all, but this was a pretty awkward performance. I’d like to mention that I thoroughly enjoy Bon Iver, and his new stuff sounds pretty good from what I’ve heard.

  7. I think Mr Vernon has a soft spot for George Michael…

    I know it was a Bonnie Raitt track first BUT George Michael did a relatively successful cover AND Gayngs have covered ‘One More Try’ from the 80s heartthrob/00s mess for Daytrotter before….

    As a music fan with a mother who played George Michaels solo work to DEATH as a child, I can feel the love….

  8. “I Can’t Make You Love Me” is an incredible song and shit, I thought I was going to be the first indie rocker to get attention covering it…oh well.

    I give Bon Iver credit for having the balls to do both of these tunes on late night TV, expecially melding them together like that. But I will say his randitions weren’t too great…maybe being in falsetto the whole time killed it for me, escpecially being that his falsetto was pretty weak.

  9. I dug it.

  10. I don’t get, what is the big deal with this guy? I’ve been seeing the hype on here so I recorded him on Fallon last night…whaaaat?! he sucks.

    • Something about this guy, I’ve come to see, is that he has no pretentions of being a real mega talent. He’s a man that has a respect for this singer, and he took time to use the national spotlight to highlight that with an old friend rather than pump up hype for his album.

      He said it himself at the end of “Holocene”, give it a listen, you’ll see what I mean.

      Give him a real chance, I promise you won’t regret hearing the music he makes.

  11. So it looks like people either love Bon Iver or not at all… I fall into the camp that loves him/them!!

    I hate to complain about that which is free, but the download of the “I Can’t Make You Love Me” cover has a few skips in it. Since I envision listening to it a LOT, I’d love it if you could provide a clean mp3. (I’d pay for if it was available!) Thanks.

    • Disagree. I love For Emma, Forever Ago. It’s one of the best albums of the last several years. But that was just terrible. Michael Bolton could have given the exact same performance and it would have been terrible to you guys. But because a guy that released a great album that we all love sings this sappy shit, we’re supposed to fawn over it? Gimme a break. I don’t want to hear a guy with a good voice sing sentimental, cheesy shit with a piano. When did this bullshit become acceptable to people with decent music tastes?

      • To be honest – guys with good voices singing cheesy shit next to a piano has been acceptable to people with decent music tastes for centuries, it’s probably one of the reasons music is still around,

        and for centuries some people have called it “sappy, sentimental, cheesy shit” give or take some historical vocabulary. What can you do, right? Win some. Lose some. etc. etc.

        Either way, leave Michael Bolton alone. His new album leak yet or what? Seal is on that shit!

      • Best thing Michael Bolton’s ever done:

      • “When did this bullshit become acceptable to people with decent music tastes?”

        This is the final, end all, ultimate expression of what Hipster is. And now we can finally lay it to rest. We’ve looked it right in the eyes, and said “You are dumb”.

  12. Whoever says this is not beautiful is too confused or is too arrogant.

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