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11 May 2011 @ 09:09 am
Bp's Song of the Week #115: The Civil Wars "Poison & Wine"  
John Paul White and Joy Williams are The Civil Wars. A few weeks ago a musician I really love, Matt Nathanson, tweeted about this song and posted a link to this video. I was struck when I clicked through at both the video and song and continued to listen a couple times that night. I was then distracted and didn’t fully dig in to them as I should have. A week or two ago though, Roshni, my friend since Kindergarten who is always listening to different and interesting music, mentioned some things she was listening to a lot lately: “The Civil Wars, The Black Keys, The Boxer Rebellion, Wye Oak, Mumford & Sons, Jonsi, and various old-school blues, jazz and bluegrass tracks. When I’m not listening to live Marillion, of course.” Again, I got my feet wet, but didn’t dive in. This past week a Facebook friend who used to work in the concert lighting industry commented on the set and lighting during their Leno performance. So I tracked that down on YouTube and decided it was time to finally dig in.

The first stop after the Leno clip was to revisit the clip Nathanson tweeted about:
“Poison & Wine”

JP: “You only know what I want you to”
Joy: “I know everything you don’t want me to”
JP: “You’re mouth is poison, your mouth is wine”
Joy: “You think your dreams are the same as mine”
Both: “I don’t love you, but I always will…”

This isn’t quite “Islands in the Stream,” but the duet between John Paul & Joy is breathtaking. The song is absolutely stunning. Its sparseness and revelation are haunting. Each note seems as fragile as a piece of fine china precariously placed on the edge of a table. The video takes it to another level. It’s so intimate you feel like an intruder. You’re not an eavesdropper, you just happened to be in the house when they arrived, but you really are an intruder. While it’s undeniably beautiful and you can’t take your eyes off them, you’re a little uncomfortable being there.

I’ve been having a wonderful discovering this amazing duo - I hope you do as well.

If you’re unsure whether they can pull off those harmonies live:
“Poison & Wine” Live
Another great version Live from Sundance

More from The Civil Wars:
Billy Jean (live) (Michael Jackson cover)
Barton Hollow video
Barton Hollow (live)
Barton Hollow (live w/out PA at SXSW)
Abeline, TX full show part I & part II