Be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.” – Plato
It’s no secret that November 6th 2012 was a very upsetting day for a lot of people. There were tears. There was anger. There was confusion. And quite frankly, I am still in mourning. No, I’m not talking about the election… I’m talking about the day one of my very favorite bands, The Civil Wars, broke up. Or, aka, the day the music died.
Yes, I was perfectly fine stressing about the election that night until I saw a tweet, a tweet that broke my music loving heart to shreds. Someone I follow on Twitter said that it looked like The Civil Wars had … broken up. Insert gasp and me loudly yelling “Noooo!!!” at the computer screen here.
So, after I regained composure and started breathing again, I immediately raced to their Facebook only to have my fears confirmed by their official statement:
“We sincerely apologize for the canceling of all of our tour dates. It is something we deeply regret. However, due to internal discord and irreconcilable differences of ambition we are unable to continue as a touring entity at this time. We thank each and every one of you for your amazing love & support. Our sincere hope is to have new music for you in 2013.”
I think I can speak for all fans when I say we were somewhat shocked and confused. Was this a canceling of just a tour or the break up of a band? And really, that still remains to be seen. They did after all say they hope to have new music out this year. But “internal discord” and “irreconcilable differences of ambition” certainly doesn’t sound good.
Not gonna lie, my reaction was something akin to this lol. I mean c’mon, it had to be a joke… a totally not funny, super late April Fools joke, right?… Right?! I knew they had canceled some of their shows but to cancel the slew of sold out European tour dates that were already underway … I never saw that one coming. So at that point, as you can imagine, I was like “who cares about the election?! Don’t you understand The Civil Wars just broke up?!” lol. Okay, slightly over dramatic, maybe. I guess it just goes to show you where my priorities lie, ha!
The Civil Wars formed when two burned out musicians, Joy Williams and John Paul White, had a chance meeting in 2008 at what’s called a “songwriting camp” in Nashville, TN. Straws were drawn to decide who would get paired up to write together first that day and John Paul was the straw chosen for Joy before she even arrived. The two say that as soon as they started singing together they could tell that this was something different, something special. And the rest as they say is history. Oddly enough, later on they found out that they both tried to get out of even going that day. Meant to be? I think so.
I think the news came as even more of shock to those of us who’ve been around since the two began and have watched their incredible rise to success.
I’ve actually been following Joy’s career ever since her very first CCM album (still have it, by the way, ha!) in 2001. And it’s been amazing to watch her musical progression and see how she’s grown as an artist over the years. I remember being really excited when in 2009 she announced on her MySpace a new duo she was a part of called The Civil Wars along with musician (& Johnny Depp doppelganger), John Paul White. And later that year seeing the music video for their first single, “Poison and Wine” and being totally blown away. You couldn’t help but be moved and fall in love with their music, their voices, and their striking chemistry. There was no denying, this combination was pure magic.
While The Civil Wars were still gaining steam, in the spring of 2010 Joy released a solo EP entitled, "We Mapped The World". My sister & I fell in love with those songs and decided to try and get an interview with Joy for our blog, The Waking. Joy was so sweet to answer all of our questions about the EP, songwriting, and of course, The Civil Wars. This was very exciting for us and something that still makes me smile to look back on.
Not long after they released the next single from their yet to be released album of the same name, "Barton Hollow", things really took off for the band. They were quickly selling out shows, making their rounds on the late night talk show circuit, and stealing people’s hearts. The album released in February of 2011 to much anticipation and just a year later won two Grammys and earned the band a small spot performing on the live telecast. “Barton Hollow” went Gold in September of last year selling 500,000 copies.
So what could cause a band who in the matter of just a year won 2 Grammys, an Americana Music Award, was nominated for a Golden Globe, & had a Gold record, to either break up or go on hiatus? I don't know. What could've caused irreconcilable differences of ambition and internal discord in a duo that seemed to have a really strong bond and such insane chemistry on stage that they were often mistaken for a married couple (they're both married to other people)? At this point fans can only speculate.
And speculate they are ... almost daily it seems on the band's Facebook. In fact, the mood is turning rather hostile as some fans are angered by the bands confusing explanation. While I understand the confusion, I also think it's pretty sad considering these same fans claim that The Civil Wars are their favorite band. We need to remember that while Joy & John Paul are musicians, and amazing ones at that, they are also people. Whatever happened that caused them to make this decision, I feel pretty safe in saying, it probably wasn't made lightly.
Though I am still lamenting the fact that I didn't get to see them live! Ugh! I can't even stand to think about it! The band that Adele called quote, "the best live band I've ever seen"... and I missed my chance to see them. This has actually made me pretty paranoid about seeing my favorite bands live a.s.a.p lest they soon share the same fate.
If “Barton Hollow” is The Civil Wars’ first and last album I see it becoming a classic. It’s something we listeners will pull out even years later and still be completely enchanted by because it’s simply timeless. I see it as an album that our children will discover as they’re rummaging through our cd or vinyl collection. They will fall in love with it and treasure it too. They will also be totally heartbroken to learn it was the bands one and only album.
The irony is not lost that a band with a name like The Civil Wars is now going through a war of their own. Their name inspired in part by the Plato quote at the top of this post. Hopefully this war will have a happy ending.
So Joy and John Paul, on the very off chance you ever find yourself reading this blog we fans truly hope you guys can work things out. But just know that we are thankful for the magic you’ve given us through your music, even if it was for just a short time. It will be terribly missed. But if you two ever come back, whether together or (dare I say it) apart, know that you have a slew of fans just waiting to welcome you back with open arms and ready to sing along to new songs. Grace & peace to the whole Civil Wars crew.