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Calculating “22, A Million”: Bon Iver by the numbers

"22, A Million" by Bon Iver

Numbers have been hugely important to Justin Vernon, writes Trever Hagen in a Bon Iver bio-turned-intimate-letter, and none has been so pivotal as 22. “22 stands for Justin,” Hagen says. “The number’s recurrence in his life has become a meaningful pattern through encounter and recognition.” It’s duality; it’s familiarity; it’s religion. In writing about 22, A Million, then, it felt right to meet Vernon and the rest of the band’s new work on its own terms; below, a list shares intriguing, number-based facts with a bit of analysis for each. Of course, there are 22.

01 Members of Bon Iver’s live band: 8

Collaborators do rotate in and out, but the band’s current line-up includes Justin Vernon, Sean Carey, Mike Lewis, Matthew McCaughan, and Andrew Fitzpatrick—plus the three Staves (Emily, Jessica, and Camilla Staveley-Taylor), who lend their three-part harmonies to Bon Iver songs old and new.

02 Numerical value of the album’s September 30, 2016 release date: 21 (0 + 9 + 3 + 0 + 2 + 0 + 1 + 6 = 21)

If only the calendar had a September 31 (golden number: 22!).

03 Days between the Eaux Claires album premiere and the album’s release date: 49

It felt like a moment and an eternity.

04 Sum of all the numbers in the song titles: 1,001,549

This is counting “00000 Million” as one million; when the track number (10) precedes the five zeros, they become 1,000,000.

05 Untypable characters in the track list (standard U.S. keyboard): 5 (∞, ⊠, Σ, ʇ, and ♢)

Honorable mention: “#” and “_.”

06 New songs available to stream before September 30: 3

“22 (OVER S∞∞N) [Bob Moose Extended Cab Version],” “10 d E A T h b R E a s T ⊠ ⊠ – Extended Version,” and “33 “GOD,”” all dropped before the album. Note that the album version of “22 (OVER S∞∞N)” is 2:48, while the Bob Moose version runs for 3:23; likewise, the extended “10 d E A T h b R E a s T ⊠ ⊠” is 34 seconds longer than the subsequent one.

07 “Bon Iver” if every letter of the alphabet corresponds to a number (A = 1, and so on): 2 15 14 9 22 5 18

Shout-out to V for being the 22nd letter of the alphabet.

08 22, A Million’s Metacritic score as of October 3, 2016: 87%

Users give it an 8.9 out of 10. Andrea Swensson reviews the album on our site.

09 Members of the Sad Sax of S—: 12

Al Falaschi, Anthony Barba, Christopher Thomas, Clay Lyons, Clay Pufahl, David Laurenzi, Mark Henderson, Matt Douglas, Nelson Devereaux, Peterson Ross, Scott Fultz, and Mike Lewis are the 12 people behind the Sad Sax of S— woodwinds. Eight of them joined Bon Iver onstage at this year’s Eaux Claires, and those musicians plus four more are credited on tracks 1, 2, 4-6, and 8 of the new album. “Maybe you’ll see more of us in the future,” Devereaux said last month. “Who knows?”

10 Artists’ catalogs that share the album’s dedication: 2

The album credits read, “Justin would like to dedicate this record to the musics of Richard Buckner and Bernice Johnson Reagon.”

11 Official videos released so far: 7

All six (“22 (OVER S∞∞N) [Bob Moose Extended Cab Version],” “10 d E A T h b R E a s T ⚄ ⚄ (Extended Version),” “33 “GOD”,” “715 – CR∑∑KS,” “29 #Strafford APTS,” “666 ʇ,” and “21 M◊◊N WATER”)  are lyric videos.

12 Official 22, A Million listening parties all over the world: 10

Boomboxes in Eau Claire, Melbourne, Copenhagen, London, Amsterdam, Paris, Brooklyn, Minneapolis, Mexico City, and Los Angeles played the album the day before it dropped. Fans got the news over Instagram.

13 Tracks on the album: 10

They have a total run time of 34:10.

14 Justin Vernon’s birthday: 04/30/1981

22, A Million came out exactly five months after Vernon turned 35.

15 Number of samples credited in the album booklet: 8

Andrea Swensson spells them all out here, also citing a ninth, uncredited Stevie Nicks snippet.

16 Number of 22, A Million songs debuted at Eaux Claires 2015: 1

“666 ʇ” met the world as an untitled song in July 2015. (Edit: The other new song from Eaux Claires 2015 has yet to be released.)

17 Years since Bon Iver’s last album release: 5

Bon Iver, Bon Iver came out on June 17, 2011, although a different Vernon project, Volcano Choir, released Repave in September 2013.

18 Highest number of Spotify streams for a 22, A Million song: 6,307,932 (“33 “GOD””)

It might take a while to catch up to “Skinny Love” and its 153,217,833 plays.

19 ZIP codes of Eau Claire, Wisconsin: 54701, 54702, and 54703

Vernon’s studio, April Base, is actually in Fall Creek, Wisconsin (ZIP code 54742; about 15 miles outside of Eau Claire).

20 Numerical hidden treasure in the track list: 715

It’s an Eau Claire area code (and one of Wisconsin’s two original area codes — joining 414 — from 1947).

21 Tour dates the band has announced (as of today): 31

Their current schedule takes them to California, New York, and western Europe.

22 Tears I’ve cried to “715 – CR∑∑KS”: too many to count

I’m a fan of this album.