The Civil Wars

Barton Hollow

I’m usually a huge fan of ridiculous spectacles, pop music and making judgmental comments about celebrities, so the Grammys should be right in my wheelhouse. Nevertheless, I had a really tough time enjoying what I watched last night. Something just felt… off. Reading this stomach-turning Hello Giggles post about Chris Brown just a few hours before the ceremony certainly didn’t help. Seeing this collection of “I’d let Chris Brown beat me” tweets after the show didn’t help either. Nor did the ratio of performances to on-air award presentations, which seems to grow more disproportionate each year (only 10 of the 78 awards were given out on TV). Whatever it was, I walked away more than a little disappointed. But guess what? It’s a big Internet out there, and I’ll let someone else complain about how bad the show was. Besides, a few things happened that made me very happy that I did watch. I loved Justin Vernon’s acceptance speech, for one thing. The acknowledgment of his discomfort in winning showed equal measures of courage and integrity, given his earlier comments about how meaningless these awards are and how creativity should be its own reward. Adele winning everything in sight was heartwarming, as well. I find a tremendous amount of character in her voice, which is refreshing in a pop music paradigm that, as Dave Grohl pointed out in his (rudely truncated) acceptance speech, often favors tonal perfection over personality. But the thing that I’ll remember most about this year’s Grammys was the Civil Wars performing a quickie, one-minute version of “Barton Hollow,” the song that won the award for “Best Country Duo/Group Performance.” They were great. I’d listened to this tune a number of times, and I’ve always liked it, but their natural demeanor and strong, straightforward delivery really stood out from the glut of comically over-produced and awkwardly shoehorned collaborations. Not only did Civil Wars seem like they belonged on such a grand stage, it looked like they could teach a thing or two to some of the other, more well-known and brazenly bedazzled honorees. Their minute on screen was exactly what I needed to jump on the Civil Wars bandwagon with both feet, and I can’t wait to spend more time with their 2011 release Barton Hollow, which took home the award for “Best Folk Album.” Listen to the studio version of the title track below and click here to buy the album on iTunes. I have a feeling you won’t be the only one doing so this week.

The Civil Wars — “Barton Hollow

5 thoughts on “The Civil Wars

  1. I enjoyed the Grammys more than recent years but felt everything was a bit off. More award giving and less crappy performances please. That and it was basically the Adele/Whitney Houston show all night.

  2. i’m so proud of civil wars. i’ve been a big fan for a long time and have been patiently waiting for them to catch a spark… and now they’ve caught fire! Such an unbelievable duo of music, they just recently released a new album and I strongly recommend checking it out.

  3. Barton Hollow was one of my favorite albums from 2011. It is so amazing all the way through. I think you will really enjoy it. You should also go check out some live performances on YouTube. You can tell they enjoy there art and that they genuinely enjoy performing together. John Paul White is such a riot it too! He is always cracking jokes, and Joy Williams always is cracking up and smiling!

    • It’s funny you say that about John Paul White being a riot, because that’s one of the things that really won me over. Their songs have a very serious tone, so his being so warm and funny totally changed the way I look at their music.

      Looking forward to checking out some of their live stuff on YouTube!

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