Fresh Session : The Civil Wars on / SIRIUS XMU Blog Radio

Four score and seven years ago… it was 1924. Not a particularly great year. In fact, the United States was doing some pretty shameful stuff with immigration (see Immigration Act of 1924). I suppose this is really neither here nor there. What I wanted to get at is that civil wars have never been very popular. They’re divisive, destructive, and extremely violent. People generally try to avoid them whenever possible and rightfully so. Countries tend to have a higher standard of living when their citizens aren’t killing each other.

MP3 : The Civil Wars – Billie Jean (live on

Nevertheless, Joy Williams and John Paul White, otherwise known as The Civil Wars, have become quite popular in 2011, plunging the otherwise horrific term into a sea of ambiguity. To put it lightly, The Civil Wars are beautiful. The bulk of their repertoire, performed almost entirely with a single acoustic guitar and their voices, is slow and mellow, but there is a warm energy to it much like the energy one finds in a shot of bourbon. The harmonies are vibrant, their voices all but designed to be sung together, and the guitar playing is soothing, though White can certainly rattle the strings when he wants to. It also doesn’t hurt that Williams and White look like movie stars cast together as leading male and female. For all these reasons and undoubtedly many more, The Civil Wars have found themselves nominated for two Grammy’s, and their 2011 release, Barton Hollow, has appeared on numerous “Best of the Year lists,” including American Songwriter, Paste Magazine, and NPR Music.

In this session, The Civil Wars share two songs off Barton Hollow as well as a personalized interpretation of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” which is so well translated into their sound that a lazy listener might think it to be an original. “20 Years,” the album’s opener, beckons like the calling of a long lost lover, being so rich and passionate that it’s almost too familiar. Equally moving is “My Father’s Father,” a melancholic telling of a homecoming that is as soft as it is powerful. Hardly anything seems to be lost from their sound in these videos, though I would definitely see them live given the chance. Enjoy! And may peace be with you!

MP3 : The Civil Wars – My Father’s Father (live on

WATCH & DOWNLOAD: See and hear the entire in-store session with Civil Wars at

Recorded and Mixed by Jeff DuPont
Filmed and Edited by Doug Fellegy
Words by Gerard Pannekoek

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