Bon Iver’s “Hey, Ma” Lyrics Meaning

This song is based on the childhood recollections of Justin Vernon, specifically in relation to his mother.  The lyrics are somewhat cryptic, as in the particular tales he is trying to relay at certain points of the song are likely based on memories only he and a few others share. 

However, the general theme relayed seems to be something along the lines of him being a troublesome lad who at times required the correction of his mom. More apparently, this track is a call for the listener to “call your ma”. This sentiment is seemingly centered on the singer acknowledging the role his own mother played earlier in life, as in now being an adult and taking care of himself he is more appreciative of the sacrifices she made.

Lyrics of "Hey, Ma"

Facts about “Hey, Ma”

Bon Iver originally played this song on 9 June 2018 at the 2018 Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tennessee.

A more-polished version of the song was then premiered on 2 June 2019 at the end of the band’s performance at the All Points East Festival in London.

“Hey Ma” was written by Brad Cook along with Bon Iver members BJ Burton and Justin Vernon.

The same trio produced the song with further assistance from Chris Messina.

“Hey Ma” is part of Bon Iver’s 2019 project entitled iCOMMAi, which fandom are considering to be the name of their next album.

On which Bon Iver album does “Hey, Ma” appear?

Bon Iver’s fourth studio album. Justin Vernon himself confirmed this. However, as we speak, the name and release date of that album have not been made public.

What was the official release date of “Hey, Ma”?

Bon Iver officially dropped this track on June 3, 2019. They released it with another single entitled “U (Man Like)“.

4 Responses

  1. Laramie Lake says:

    I think you missed the punch that the song sounds like it’s sung from the perspective of someone strung out, admitting and calling there mother for help.

  2. Leah says:

    Say her name? In the analysis? Belated Mom appreciation by a songwriter is personal. Fine. But analysis with not a smidgen of anything about the guy’s actual Mom? Come on.

  3. Wyatt says:

    We seem to miss the geographical significance of the song writers and the hardships specific if the region of Midwest in the north. Iron ore is the only way a real solid living can be made in the area without education. It is a hard life and takes a toll long hours during summer months and the “in and out of light is the reference to these workers. Talk the money up indicates someone perhaps his brother and father was not happy but used to cope with the sad life of iron ore worker. Several other songs the Bon Iver collection illustrate the hard life of the blue collar worker and the challenges faced in marriage, family, relationships and the sort… Bon Iver is the Dorthea Lang of music painting a picture of the life of the average American family and their plight to make sense of a harsh world.


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