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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When We Were Young

{When I was in freshman in high school, there was a woman who was a senior who I really looked up to. She was really cool, smart, and wise. I really wanted to be like her and I hoped that when I was her age (or older), I’d have the opportunity to give back, to have kind of impact on others that she had on me. Writing with that in mind is where that piece comes from. I hope you enjoy it.}

my dear precious girl,

i still remember you when you were young. the image of that bright shining girl, who was full of life and enthusiasm. she sparkled and held onto dreams. most of all, she was filled with possibility.

i remember as you began to grow. still filled with life and enthusiasm. still holding onto dreams. but you battled hard with the voices of doubt. voices that told you that you didn’t measure up.

the voices were wrong–are wrong. you do measure up. you are a part of something beautiful. and you are beautiful. i love you just the way you are. you don’t have to prove it, you just have to live it.

you don’t have to try, so please stop striving. live in who you are. because who you are is beautiful. who you are is loved. who you are is a blessing to those around her.

i hope you don’t go chasing contentment, thinking that if you gain enough, if you become enough, then you will finally find it. no, beautiful one, contentment is with you. contentment is accepting yourself. contentment is learning to love yourself, learning to care for yourself and silence the voices. contentment is growing in grace and in God. contentment is peace and trust when you’re not where you want to be.

things might not be what you want them to be. those dreams of yours, they are still good, even if they might not come true. or even if they are filled with so much pain because it seems as through they will never happen. and just thinking about them brings tears. God walks through those moments with you. God has given you the heart of a dream for a reason. you are exactly where you are supposed to be. you are shining a light. and when you find contentment between here and the future, you are providing a beacon of hope for other followers of God. we all need encouragement in the hard times. the ones who love you will always be there to pray with you, laugh with you, and speak words of truth into you.

remember two things: i believe in you. and i love you. always.