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Sweet Songs of Surrender


When I was a kid I wanted to grow up to be…
I think I wanted to either be a poet, a priest, or a pianist. I decided by being a songwriter I could be all three at once. When I got serious about songwriting, it was the first time in my life that I had to try my hardest. I loved that feeling. All of a sudden there were no shortcuts. Songwriting involved everything I could muster, every part of me. Songwriting also requires you to confront the idea of grace: you work really hard, but then you also sometimes receive gifts that feel like they have nothing to do with you. You have to learn how to receive.

That litle gem is from Linford Detweiler, one half of husband-wife duo Over the Rhine, in this wee interview. Marvellous coment, isn’t it. So much of what he says, especially the final two sentences, could be as much about poetry as songwriting. And, of course, the quality of their songwriting is a significant part of what makes them one of my all-time favourite bands.

Perhaps the most attractive feature of that songwriting is the combination of raw honesty and hope. It’s there in abundance in a line like  “All my favourite people are broken” from a track on their new album, The Long Surrender, which you can currently stream here (and I recommend you do).

I hope readers see that same combination in The Ambulance Box. It may well be that Over the Rhine’s dogged, quietly powerful pursuit of it has fed into my own writing. Certainly, Good Dog, Bad Dog: The Home Recordings is a particularly emotionally important record to me. Drunkard’s Prayer hits the mark with similar accuracy, as does The Long Surrender.

I might say more about the record when I’ve digested it further. For now, I’ll leave you with this video of Linford, Karin and collaborators performing a track from The Long Surrender. Enjoy:


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