What if you spent every day looking for One Beautiful Thing?

Lean In




Joy Williams and John Paul White were the singer/songwriter duo known as The Civil Wars. After hearing the subtle, spine-tingling harmony in the first recording below, I went on the hunt for more. Although they won four Grammys between 2012 and 2014, I still wasn’t acquainted with their work, so getting to listen to them for the first time was thrilling.

There’s something so unique about the incredible control they both have over their voices. In each of the songs I’ve heard, they play a lot with volume. There are moments when the harmonies are bold and crystal clear, and at other times, one or the other will practically whisper their notes. I found myself keeping perfectly still and leaning closer so I didn’t miss a thing.

I was very disappointed to learn the pair doesn’t perform together anymore. In fact, they reportedly haven’t spoken since 2012. I shouldn’t be surprised. The signs were there. Sporting song titles like “I Wish You Were the One Who Got Away,” their lyrics read like impending relationship doom.

“I wish you’d hold me when I turn my back
The less I give the more I get back
Oh your hands can heal, your hands can bruise
I don’t have a choice but I’d still choose you
I don’t love you, but I always will…” – The Civil Wars, Poison & Wine

Even the duo’s professional photos never show both of them looking at the camera at the same time. They made beautiful music, but I’m guessing there was a lot of hurt feelings and screaming and throwing things behind the scenes. That aura of unrest makes their tender musical moments that much more poignant for their fragility.

They are both reminding me of other people. He seems like a combination of Johnny Depp and T.J. Miller, and she’s giving me younger Dana Delany. It’s a little unsettling, honestly. And they keep sharing these moments that see fraught with… something. Can’t tell whether they were having an affair or they were just really, really close (in a volatile way). Whatever it was, it’s sure interesting to watch.

This is the song they recorded with Taylor Swift in 2011 for the “Hunger Games” soundtrack. How did I miss this?

Author: Donna from MyOBT

I have committed to spending part of every day looking for at least one beautiful thing, and sharing what I find with you lovelies!

17 thoughts on “Lean In

  1. Yes. Exact same experience and thoughts. Thanks for posting.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I picked up Barton Hollow at a used book store for a buck. Best bargain ever. Great road music too.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have heard them before, too, but never knew the backstory. Disappointing they don’t speak to each other any more. Were they married? Saw wedding rings on both in the NPR video.

    Thanks for sharing, Donna.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ooooh. I’m loving their sound. It’s incredible how they can harmonize that wonderfully on a musical level given how uncomfortable they look together physically. I’ve rarely seen a duo have less chemistry. I’m going to have to check out more of their stuff. I listen to a lot of Anais Mitchell and Scottish folk music so this is my cup of tea. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Love their sound. I have never fully heard what happened with their relationship either. She came from a contemporary christian background so I wondered if that had something to do with it as well. However, she did just come out with her own album. Take a listen…she’s still working through something.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Great article. Great videos

    Liked by 1 person

  7. They are musically amazing together. I’m sad that their partnership didn’t work.

    Liked by 1 person

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