U (Man Like)

Songfacts®:

  • This piano-driven ballad touches on various modern social issues, such as homelessness.

    How much caring is there of some American love
    When there's lovers sleeping in your streets?


    And drug abuse.

    Down the back of the ridge
    There's just something that I got to show you
    There is domer and there's rot.


    Vernon is saying America needs to invest more energy and resources into dealing with these issues.
  • Bruce Hornsby's unmistakable piano sets the tone for the song. The collaboration came about when "The Way It Is" songwriter came out to Vernon's studio for a session for his Absolute Zero record. He started playing some musical ideas; a halting piano fanfare, which he originally composed for a Spike Lee movie, made everyone jump up. Co-producer Brad Cook recalled to Apple Music:

    "That piano figure in that song - I feel like we were tracking 15 seconds later. It was like, 'Wait, can we listen to this again?'"
  • Hornsby's voice is featured on "U (Man Like)" along with Justin Vernon, electro-soul LA singer-songwriter Moses Sumney, Wye Oak's Jenn Wasner, newcomer Elsa Jensen, and the Brooklyn Youth Choir.
  • The song was debuted on June 2, 2019, during Bon Iver's set at the All Points East festival in London.

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