Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thursday's Lyric: All My Favorite People, Over The Rhine

Over the Rhine has been a sleeper favorite band for me for a long time. I had known about them peripherally for a while, but I first connected with their music when I was in charge of ordering books and music for a church bookstore and coffeeshop. In search of more than spit-shined Nashville CCM (no offense) I ordered in their two albums, Ohio and Drunkard's Prayer. We played those two albums often until a ladies' book club was enjoying a moment of silence one day and noticed an F-bomb in one of the songs, after which we were commanded not to play them in the store. But I still had plenty of time for the rich, honest lyrics to sink into my mind. 

Three years ago, I went to the Calvin Festival of Faith and Music with my sister and our good friends Naomi and Justin. Over the Rhine (Linford Detweiler and Karin Bergquist) were the headliners for the Saturday night wrap up concert, but they also taught a small breakout session on songwriting. It was scheduled at 8:00 am on Friday morning, and we got there early to get good seats for the sold-out class, clutching cups of coffee. Linford and Karin arrived about 5 minutes before class, wrapped in sweatshirts and scarves, clutching cups of coffee and grinning a little ruefully about early mornings.

Casually, they simply answered questions and extemporized about songwriting, Linford often from behind the piano playing bits and pieces of songs to illustrate points. 

To the question, "What are some elements that make up a great song for you?" Linford answered "The first eight to ten words are a critical element. They should draw you in, like a great opening line in a story or poem." 

On Saturday night, I went with friends to the Triple Door in Seattle for a dinner-concert. Over the Rhine has played here at the end of November for the past few years, and it's the perfect time of year to listen to them. Introducing this song, Linford said that it had been in the works for about 5 years. "I'm glad it's finally arrived in time for this album," he said, "because I think it's something I have to remember every day."

All my favorite people are broken 
Believe me 
My heart should know 
Some prayers are better left unspoken 
I just wanna hold you 
And let the rest go 


 All my friends are part saint and part sinner 
We lean on each other 
Try to rise above 
We’re not afraid to admit we’re all still beginners 
We’re all late bloomers 
When it comes to love 


All my favorite people are broken 
Believe me 
My heart should know 


Orphaned believers, skeptical dreamers 
Step forward 
You can stay right here 
You don’t have to go 


 Is each wound you’ve received 
Just a burdensome gift? 
It gets so hard to lift 
Yourself up off the ground 


 But the poet says, 
We must praise the mutilated world 
We’re all workin’ the graveyard shift 
You might as well sing along 


All my favorite people are broken 
Believe me 
My heart should know 


 (As for) your tender heart— 
This world’s gonna rip it wide open 
It ain’t gonna be pretty 
But you’re not alone 


‘Cause all my favorite people are broken 
Believe me 
My heart should know 


Orphaned believers, skeptical dreamers 
You’re welcome 
Yeah, you’re safe right here 
You don’t have to go 


‘Cause all my favorite people are broken 
Believe me I should know 
Some prayers are better left unspoken 
I just wanna hold you 
And let the rest go


*the video is not an official music video, but was put 
together for a church service in Knoxville, TN. 
What a great song for the church to hear.

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