Friday, February 18, 2011

Poetry Friday: Poison and Wine

Once a long time ago, my husband convinced me a date to see Jason and the Scorchers was a charming idea. You'd think the name of the band would've clued me in, but decades later, we only have to allude to that night in passing before we're both tossing salt over our shoulders to prevent another disastrous "You Have No Idea Who I am as a Person" pothole in our relationship.

Even though he led me astray years ago, I accepted his invitation last weekend to see another act unknown to me for Valentine's Day, and squelched any fear that after twenty-six years of marriage, we might be due for another What Were You Thinking? moment.

Not so. The Civil Wars were everything I love in music----raw, lovely, equally sad and funny, dramatic, exquisitely and emotionally performed.

You only know what I want you to
I know everything you don't want me to
Oh your mouth is poison, your mouth is wine
Oh you think your dreams are the same as mine
Oh I don't love you but I always will
Oh I don't love you but I always will
Oh I don't love you but I always will
I always will

I don't suppose that's the most romantic song. But here's what its creators, Joy Williams and John Paul White, say about it:

"Poison & Wine" fits the paradigm of subject matter too true to be spoken, as opposed to sung. "That song probably does sum us up—The Civil Wars, the name of the band—as well as any song that we've written," White says. It's the one song on the album written with an outside collaborator, their friend Chris Lindsey. "We're all married, and we were all talking about the good, the bad and the ugly, and just felt like: What would you say to someone if you were actually brutally honest—the things that you could never say because it would turn them away or let the cat out of the bag or reveal yourself to be weaker? What would you actually say if you had this invisible curtain around you and could just scream it in somebody's face and they'd actually never hear it? We were all being very painfully honest, because we're all very comfortable around each other and know that things like that never leave the room, except in a song. I'm pretty proud of that song, to be honest."

I admit that during our dating years, I regularly questioned (tortured) my husband with an inquisition designed to determine What Love Is. And if I loved him. And if I did, What That Meant.

The only better answer I have now is this: Love can live through a Jason and the Scorchers hellfest.  You can slowly become more known to the one you love, even as the unknown is a current taking you further out, together, to the end of the world.

P.S. Joy wore the most gorgeous velvet dress with a blue bow that made me instantly crush on her for not defaulting to jeans and a glitzy top.

P.P. S. My husband was worried about not providing me with a traditional Valentine's Day dinner pre-concert. I'm here to say the two chili dogs and beer I consumed at Jammin' Java were heavenly.

For a glimpse of Joy's dress, the Washington Post reviewed the concert in a much more musically focused manner here.

More about The Civil Wars, including some free downloads, tour dates, and a link to their recently released album, Barton Hollow, is here.

Mary Ann at Great Kid Books has the Poetry Friday roundup today.


  1. Got it to work, finally!

    So glad you and the hubby got out for a cool date. :-)

  2. Hahahah! Tech Boy and I had our own Jason & the Scorchers moment; much to my chagrin, he actually just fell asleep during the concert which was for him completely boring and overwrought. I was mortified. In trying to "relate" to him, I'd completely missed the boat.

    But, true love survives any number of disastrous concerts. Glad you had a good night out. (And that is a lovely dress!)

  3. Oh, Tanita. Funny. But I understand your mortification.

    I'm STILL wanting that dress.

  4. Awesome! Glad you guys had a good night. Did you know that Jason went on to make some reputable kids albums? (Alt ego = Farmer Jason.)

  5. I didn't know that, Madelyn---you have a vast array of musical knowledge, I'm discovering. Wouldn't it be ironic if I loved his kid stuff now?

  6. Wow, loved that, and thanks for it.

    Just to sum up:

    * Would not go see Jason and the Scorchers.

    * Would go to the Civil Wars ... could convince my husband it's something historical and that he'd love it ... but then we'd have our own Scorchers moment ...

    * Oh, well.

    * He can buy me the album and we'll all be happy.

  7. Ooh, love that song (and the dress). Thanks, Sara! And Barton Hollow...kinda southern Gothic. Going to have to download some of their stuff.


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