Delaware Public Media

Benjamin Naddaff-Hafrey

Justin Vernon's career as Bon Iver has perfectly aligned with NPR Music's existence. It was 10 years ago this past summer that For Emma, Forever Ago began to write the project and the myth of its creation into indie-rock legend, making Vernon's own name nearly synonymous with it in the process. The idea of that cabin in the woods and Vernon's wounded, multi-tracked falsetto have since become iconic.

On a flight of mottled concrete steps by Waller Creek in Austin, Maren Morris flipped the break-up song on its head. Born in Texas, she moved to Nashville to be a songwriter, and her southern roots and songwriter's sensibility shone brightly, even in the dimming Austin night. "I Wish I Was" holds within it a pop songwriting trifecta — a powerful, identity-based thematic hook, a catchy chorus and an easy, soulful voice to deliver it all. Morris sings as the heartbreaker, letting her lover down as easily as she can and feeling regret not of a missing love but of missed expectations.

On the fourth of July in 2005, Sufjan Stevens released Illinois, a record that made him a household name, at least among a particular set of indie rock fans and music critics.