Wine me, dine me, Over the Rhine me!

Husband and I are off to Portland for our anniversary weekend! We’ll be back Monday and, no doubt, I’ll have photos and stories to share. We’re going to see THESE FOLKS!

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Our favorite band, Over the Rhine, is concerting tonight and starting our romantic weekend off right. I’ve gathered up some of my (current) favorite songs by them that I could find on YouTube. I recommend listening to them in order, but getting a little OtR in your life is of utmost importance, order be damned.

Linford and Karin (but usually Linford) regularly write letters to share with their fans. It’s a practice I really appreciate. Here’s the most recent one from the end of October:

Hello friends,

Clouds of leaves were fluttering down this morning in the breezy fall sun. The normally contemplative cattle dog began barking at the wind, challenging the change in the weather. He runs back and forth along the three-board fence for the sheer pleasure of it, restless with nameless joy. It’s supposed to get up to 70 degrees today. Yes, Ohio has its moments.

***

You forget sometimes how it feels. To drive a few hours to see songs embodied and performed on a low lit stage – songs that have gotten so tangled up in the significant moments of your life, songs that contain so many clues on how to live, songs dense with dark, almost unspeakable beauties – and then the music begins and you begin remembering – your bones begin remembering – the marrow has a memory – you begin remembering your best imaginings, you become intoxicated with possibility, your eyes brim with the happiest tears: they belong to you and you alone.

GK Chesterton said something like, We need priests and pastors to remind us that one day we’re going to die. But we need another kind of priest – poets and writers and musicians – to remind us that we’re not dead yet.

I like it.

Yes, the other night, a friend and I drove a few hours to the capital of Ohio to see one of all my all-time faves, Mr. Leonard Cohen, grace a stage at age 75. His voice: a ragged, beautiful gift. His songs, which slide like glaciers into being, coming to us from some beautiful, substantial beyond…

And as I sit towards the front of the balcony, and hear the songs unreel, Bird On A Wire, Anthem, Tower of Song, Suzanne, Famous Blue Raincoat, Hallelujah, I remember how important songs have been to me.

And I remember as I sit in the balcony that feeling I felt when I was younger, a feeling so complete it eclipsed everything: If I could help somebody else feel like I feel right now then my life would not be in vain.

It only made the evening feel more significant that we drove a few hours – I read a few of Mr. Cohen’s lyrics aloud as Ric steered North and the fields rolled by; I read a few of LC’s poems that have become personal favorites. That feeling of becoming a little drunk with anticipation…

And then you get to the theatre and you look around to see who else had to be there. Who are they, why are they here? Are they into the early songs, the new songs? Did they hear the Jeff Buckley cover of Hallelujah? Madeleine Peyroux sing Dance Me to the End of Love? Are they fans of his early novels or the poems? Who are we??

Mr. Cohen has said a few times on this tour, The last time I stood on this stage was fourteen years ago. I was 60 years old, just a crazy kid with a dream.

Yes, on a Tuesday night in Ohio, Leonard Cohen repeatedly got down on one knee to sing his towering songs, songs full of unforgettable proposals.

God Bless you LC. May we all be in such a beautiful groove at age 75.

(I saw a girl after the concert walking alone down the sidewalk, exclaiming into her cellphone, giddy with joy, I SAW HIM!! There was nothing else to say. She had obviously completed something important on her list of things to do before she died.)

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in
(LC, Anthem)

So as we pack our suitcases today to go find our own stretch of highway headed West, we pack with a sense of, YES. Yes in all caps. This is good. This is a worthy attempt at finding and sharing the best we have to offer. This is what we do.

We sure hope you can join us.

Sincerely,

Linford and Karin

Images: All photos are mine, taken from a concert Over the Rhine did at the Variety in Little Five Points in Atlanta, Summer 2008. As always, please do not use, distribute, or copy my photos without my express permission.

P.S. I can’t take credit for the title of this post, OtR has been using the phrase on their merchandise for quite the while.

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