An Ode to The Civil Wars

Today The Civil Wars officially called it quits, ending a two year hiatus and putting a period on a beautiful career as a duo. This is a very sad day for the fans who fell in love with their music. Not to mention the duo themselves. It was a quite a ride.

I remember when I first fell in love with the duo and their music. I was following Joy’s now dufunct blog. She had been teasing a new project she was working on with someone. Then in February 2009 she uploaded a blurry youtube video of her covering Dance Me to the End of Love with a Johnny Depp look-a-like playing guitar and matching her harmonies. I must have listened to that cover hundreds of times after it was released. There was something magical about the way their voices matched together. It was just their voices and the guitar, but that was enough. I was hooked.

The next month, they released another video. This time, it was of an original song they had written called Falling. This duo was something very special. Even with a low quality video, their passion showed through and their voices shined. Those two beginning videos are still some of my favorites. And I actually prefer those versions of the two songs over the recorded ones. I suppose that’s because that is when I first fell in love with them. They gained traction over time, preforming their first concert at Eddie’s Attic in Atlanta, GA. From that first concert came a live album, which recently released on vinyl. For a long time, it was available for download on noisetrade, even after their large success.

They released a small EP called Poison and Wine. I think Poison and Wine is one of the most powerful songs I’ve ever heard, the deepest kind of love. It was that song and the accompanying video that connected with so many. “I don’t love you, but I always will.” I connected with the their words, with the feelings embedded in that story. It was my favorite song, on repeat for two years. The music video is still one of the most beautiful I’ve seen.

They released their first album Barton Hallow in 2010. It was acclaimed by so many and propelled them forward, as they hit morning news shows, late night and everywhere in between. It made its way onto best-of lists for the year and was nominated for many awards. It was crazy to see these two, whose video I had fallen for, now becoming a nation wide, then world wide hit. But that is a testament to the kind of music they had. It connected with audiences, by word of mouth of friends.

They continued to get bigger and bigger, touring it seemed non-stop. They were in the middle of a European tour when they suddenly decided to cancel and take time off for their remaining tour dates. Sadly, a date I was going to was on the chopping block as well. I never got to see them perform live, which is so very sad. I’ve heard from others that they had an amazing energy in concert, that they brought out the best in one another.

For as long as the band existed, there were always jokes that with a name like The Civil Wars, things were destined for failure. And if that didn’t turn out to be true. But that is the nature of life itself. The unexpected happens. And sometimes, it cannot be mended completely. No matter how much time and work, it doesn’t work the way we want.

In the midst of my own crazy two years, I waited with bated breath, hoping this amazing duo could work things out. That their beautiful music could continue. It wasn’t meant to be. It doesn’t mean that nothing can ever be mended, no matter how hard we work. But some things, some things need to be separated to heal.

Their final album showed the pain that they were in, in lyrics, in studio videos, in voices. But it still contained the beauty, the passion that made the band. I listened to it on preview, the week before it dropped. I hoped and prayed that this would not be the end for the band, with each song that poured through my speakers. Dust to Dust reminded me so much of Poison and Wine, that same longing, that same love.

I can’t tell you how grateful I am to Joy and to John Paul for the music they made together. This world is better because of their music. I wish them nothing but happiness in this next stage of their lives and careers. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for this music. For the gift of loving it for the past five years. For the joy that it was brought me. It was not wasted. It means so much.

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