Snow Angels

  •   1. All I Ever Get For Christmas Is Blue
  •   2. Darlin' (Christmas Is Coming)
  •   3. White Horse
  •   4. Little Town
  •   5. New Redemption Song
  •   6. Goodbye Charles
  •   7. Snowed In With You
  •   8. North Pole Man
  •   9. Here It Is
  •   10. One Olive Jingle
  •   11. Snow Angel
  •   12. We're Gonna Pull Through
1. All I Ever Get For Christmas Is Blue

Strings of lights above the bed
Curtains drawn and a glass of red
All I ever get for Christmas is blue

Saxophone on the radio
Recorded 40 years ago
All I ever get for Christmas is blue

When you play my song
Play it slowly
Play it like I’m sad and lonely

Maybe you can solve
Solve my mystery
Wrap me in your arms and whisper
You miss me

Weatherman says it’s miserable
But the snow is so beautiful
All I ever get for Christmas is blue

It would take a miracle
To get me out to a shopping mall
All I really want for Christmas is you

Let them ring the bells
They won’t miss us
I’ll be drinkin’ down your kisses

Deep into the night
We’ll go stealing
Underneath a starry ceiling
Revealing

White lights on the Christmas tree
Thank God you are here with me
All I ever get for Christmas is blue

2. Darlin' (Christmas Is Coming)

So it’s been a long year
Every new day brings one more tear
Till there’s nothing left to cry

My, my how time flies
Like little children hiding their eyes
We’ll make it disappear
Let’s start a brand new year

Darlin’ Christmas is coming
Salvation army bells are ringing
Darlin’ Christmas is coming
Do you believe in angels singing
Darlin’ the snow is falling
Falling like forgiveness from the sky

If I could have anything
What would I want this new year to bring
Well, I’d want you here with me

Tear these thorns from my heart
Help the healing to start
Let’s set this old world free
Let’s start with you and me

3. White Horse

Bring me a white horse for Christmas
We’ll ride him through the town
Out into the snowy woods
Where we will both lie down

Underneath white birches
Our faces toward the sky
We will make snow angels
With our white horse standing by

Hush now baby
One day we’re gonna ride
Hush now baby
Our white horse through the sky

Bring me a white horse for Christmas
We’ll ride him through the snow
All the way to Bethlehem
2000 years ago

I wanna speak with the angel
Who said do not be afraid
I wanna kneel where the oxen knelt
Where the little child was laid

Hush now baby
One day you’re gonna ride
Hush now baby
Your white horse through the sky

No bridle will he be wearing
His unshod hoofs they will fly
Keep a watch out this Christmas
For that white horse in the sky

Hush now baby
One day we’re gonna ride
Hush now baby
Our white horse through the sky

Hush now baby
Let every angel sing
Hush now baby
One day we’ll ride again

4. Little Town

O little town of Bethlehem
How still we see thee lie
Above thy dark and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by

Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting light
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight

The lamplit streets of Bethlehem
We walk now through the night
There is no peace in Bethlehem
There is no peace in sight

The wounds of generations
Almost too deep to heal
Scar the timeworn miracle
And make it seem surreal

The baby in the manger
Grew to a man one day
And still we try to listen now
To what he had to say

Put up your swords forever
Forgive your enemies
Love your neighbor as yourself
Let your little children come to me

5. New Redemption Song

Lord we need a new redemption song
Lord we’ve tried
It just seems to come out wrong
Won’t you help us please
Help us just to sing along
A new redemption song

Lord we need
A new redemption day
All our worries
Keep getting in the way

Won’t you help us please
Help us find the words to pray
To bring redemption day

6. Goodbye Charles
7. Snowed In With You

When you come home
And all the world’s asleep
I’ll close my eyes
And breathe with sweet relief
This world has had you
Long enough for now
And when I get you home
I’ll show you how

I wanna get snowed in with you
I wanna shake off these winter blues
These ain’t no blues that I can use
And when the lights are gleaming
I’ll be leaning into you
What’s a girl to do?

I wanna get snowed in with you
I’m gonna make every effort to
Be so good to you
That when the snow melts away
You’ll want to stay

Snowed in with me
Till it’s time to take down the tree
And it’s all I really need baby
To be alone awhile with you
What’s a girl to do?

Drift with me
While we’re still awake
Every new snowflake
Is like a wish we make
Dream with me
Leave your cares far behind
Is all love snowblind?
Let me awake in time to find

That I’m snowed in with you
I’m gonna make every effort to
Be so good to you
That when the snow melts away
You’ll want to stay
Snowed in with me

8. North Pole Man

North Pole man
Come in from the cold
North Pole man
It’s gettin’ old
Cold hands cold feet
Darn snow darn sleet
It takes good friction
To make good heat

North Pole man
Come out of the storm
North Pole man
Gotta get you warm
Hot rum steam heat
My lips taste sweet
I got warm cookin’
Spread the table take a seat

Northpole man
Can you afford to
You outta come here
Come south of the border
Come down real slow
It’s warm down below
It takes perspiration
To melt the snow

9. Here It Is

I cried when I wrote this
I’ll always remember
The worst kind of lonely
Is alone in December

The act of forgiveness
Is always a mystery
The melting of ice
And the future of history

Some call it obsession
I call it commitment
I make my confession
I make it in public

I hope that it’s helpful
That others can use it
That it’s more than my ego
And my need to abuse it

I’m wrappin’ up my love this Christmas
I’m wrappin’ up my love this Christmas
I’m wrappin’ up my love this Christmas
And here it is

The leaves on the oak tree
Hold on through the winter
They’re brown and their brittle
They clatter together

I can’t seem to let go
I’m so scared of losing
The deeper the love goes
The deeper the bruising

The trouble with talking
Is it makes you sound clever
The trouble with waiting
Is you’ll just wait forever

There’s a loop of excuses
That plays in your mind
And makes the truth
Even harder to find

I’m wrappin’ up my love this Christmas
I’m wrappin’ up my love this Christmas
I’m wrappin’ up my love this Christmas
And here it is

When they blow Gabriel’s horn
Rip fiction from fact
I want to get caught
In some radical act

Of love and redemption
The sound of warm laughter
Some true conversation
With a friend or my lover

Somewhere down the road
We’ll lift up our glass
And toast the moment
And moments past

The heartbreak and laughter
The joy and the tears
The scary beauty
Of what’s right here

I’m wrappin’ up my love this Christmas
I’m wrappin’ up my love this Christmas
I’m wrappin’ up my love this Christmas
And here it is

10. One Olive Jingle
11. Snow Angel

Once upon a winter
It seems so long ago
My one and only love and I
Fell down upon the snow

And as the dusk was falling
From our gray and goose down sky
We heard the old cathedral bells
Ring out our lullaby

Snow angel, snow angel
Someday I’m gonna fly
This cold and broken heart of mine
Will one day wave goodbye
Goodbye to this cruel wicked world
And all the tears I’ve cried
Snow angel, snow angel
I’ll meet you in the sky

The rumors of a distant war
Called my true love’s name
He packed his leather suitcase
And spoke no word of blame
We walked awhile together
I tried to hide my fear
He told me not to be afraid
And whispered in my ear

Snow angel, snow angel
Someday I’m gonna fly
This cold and broken heart of mine
Will one day wave goodbye
Goodbye to this cruel wicked world
And all the tears I’ve cried
Snow angel, snow angel
I’ll meet you in the sky

They brought my love home from the war
In a cart pulled by white mules
The Christmas bells rang out that day
Oblivious as fools

And as the snow began to fall
I kissed his frozen face
They told me in his woolen coat
His last few words were placed

Snow angel, snow angel
Someday I’m gonna fly
This cold and broken heart of mine
Will one day wave goodbye
Goodbye to this cruel wicked world
And all the tears I’ve cried
Snow angel, snow angel
I’ll meet you in the sky

 

12. We're Gonna Pull Through

You take your own sweet time
Order us a glass of wine
And wink at all the rich folks in the room
We’re gonna pull through

We’ve been careful, we’ve been good
Doing most of the things we should
But the picture is much bigger than we knew
We’re gonna pull through

There’s no such thing as cool
And we’re gonna pull through

I’d rather feel your heat
On a wicked winter day
Than watch a holiday parade

With dancers and balloons
We’re gonna pull through

You hold me just the same way
Levon would play
And The Weight is my favorite song
We’re gonna pull through

Breaking our own rules
We’re gonna pull through

Maybe, sorta, kinda
If I really had to say
Something good is on its way
And we’re gonna pull through

Last year we moved to a pre-Civil War farmhouse on a piece of land surrounded by open fields and meandering tree lines. The sky is bluer out here by day and blacker by night. We see real stars after dark especially when the moon is new. When the moon is full, we walk the mown night paths in a light that feels sacred, a light that has the same effect on the body and senses as a good glass of wine, or secret good news, or maybe good laughter remembered silently from a distance. It was a dream to land in a place like this, plant our feet on a piece of earth surrounded by a few tall trees, trees that have been alive much longer than we have. Apart from good music, the sound of the wind moving through the pines next to the back porch may be as close as we've come to the sound of the Holy Spirit moving. We can get lost there.

Our own songs have nudged us forward in a life we now recognize as very much our own, the life we have been given. We've been more-or-less penniless on various occasions, but it seems we nonetheless often manage to be surrounded by exceptionally good food and drink and people who have stories to tell and a knack for making us laugh. In the early days, I once described the life of the touring musician like this:

It's a beautiful vacation
But you wear Salvation Army clothes

I look out the guest room window here at the farm as I write this: I see nothing but increasingly familiar trees, fields and sky: more than worth the price of admission.

The songs continue to arrive, and we continue to need to know where the songs want to take us. We're still curious. We still have the ability to be surprised.

So we invited Paul here to Nowhere Farm awhile back to help set up the microphones and get us started on this our first real recording at the farm. We sat on the back porch and talked about music and how everything in the universe is vibrating, everything joining in.

The leaves are falling, the rocks are crying out, harmonic clouds are drifting by, stars are droning light - whether or not the human ear is capable of tuning in, it's all pulsing, it's all connected, an infinite organism of song. I confessed that my mind has been chattering away this year like a dancing puppet with a sprained ankle. How do I quiet my mind and tune into the bigger picture?

Paul gave us a new ancient mantra, a tuning device, a mind-quieter: Sa Ta Na Ma, Wa He Gu Ru: Birth - Life - Death - Resurrection: Wow God.

It was an eye-opener. As a musician, I can riff on these words, find countless variations.

Every day arrives, becomes evening, becomes night, becomes morning: Birth - Life - Death- Resurrection: Wow God.

A hawk flies dead quiet into the locust grove next to the garden and waits: Birth - Life - Death - Resurrection: Wow God.

The maples this year were golden, rouged through and through, gilded with ambers and lovely rust. The maple grove shook out the softest yellow blanket of leaves, a kneedeep invitation. Summer, Fall, Winter, Spring: Birth - Life - Death - Resurrection: Wow God.

My own father turned 80 this fall. My father: the Amish boy who left the Amish farm at age 21 and eventually bought an upright piano for his own son. Birth - Life - Death - Resurrection: Wow God.

This is the vibration of the universe, the everywhere song, the rhythm of everything.

I've been trying to figure out why it was so fun to write and record these songs. Karin and I are drawn to Christmas music like children to snow: it just feels like play. It could be that Karin grew up with the voices of Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole on her grandmother's record player - singers who made Christmas feel like no other time of year. It could be that my own father loved to unearth odd Christmas gems like "Do You Hear What I Hear?" or Mahalia Jackson's "Go Tell It On The Mountain."

As we set about brewing this music, we tried to steep it in the stuff of the everyday. But somewhere along the way we realized that underneath everything, isn't that ancient mantra, the deeper rhythm, the crux of Christmas? Isn't the Christ child, the baby in the manger born surrounded by blinking animals, the baby that grew to a man and taught his followers to love the Creator with all they could muster and their neighbors as themselves, isn't the life story of Jesus the quintessential embodiment of this deepest of all rhythms: Birth - Life - Death - Resurrection: Wow God.

Come late November on Nowhere Farm when the leaves are lying down and the earth is lying fallow, we'll put lights up in the windows and trim a Nowhere Farm tree, and lift a glass of something warm and glowing with the familiarity of home. (Karin has always loved this time of year.) And then we'll come looking for you with these songs all wrapped up for real. (In the thick of the night, take me out of the cold, let me sing inside like a radio...)

And when we finally get back to the farm a few days before Christmas Eve, and it's just the two of us and the dogs and the cozy kitties, we'll pray we get snowed in. And after the storm, when all is still, the stars will wink at the sleepy farm, and we'll hear the sound of the violin in our heads, and we'll burrow down deep in our beds, and we'll breathe ourselves grinning full of Christmas: Birth - Life - Death - Resurrection: Wow God.

Happy holidays,
Linford Detweiler for Over the Rhine,
Nowhere Farm, November 3, 2006

1. All I Ever Get For Christmas Is Blue (4:24)
Mickey Grimm: Percussion
Byron House: Upright Bass
Linford Detweiler: Piano
Karin Bergquist: Vocals

2. Darlin’ (Christmas is Coming) (3:33)
Mickey Grimm: Percussion
Brad Jones: Bass, Lowrey Organ
Linford Detweiler: Acoustic Guitar, Piano,
Background Vocals
Karin Bergquist: Vocals

3. White Horse (4:14)
Mickey Grimm: Drum Kit
Byron House: Upright Bass
Brad Jones: Mandolin
Linford Detweiler: Acoustic Guitar, Piano, Accordion
Karin Bergquist: Vocals

4. Little Town (3:22)
Mickey Grimm: Drum Kit
Byron House: Upright Bass
Linford Detweiler: Acoustic Guitar,
Hammond Organ, Background Vocals
Karin Bergquist: Vocals

5. New Redemption Song (2:25)
Mickey Grimm: Drum Kit
Brad Jones: Bass, Electric Guitar
Linford Detweiler: Acoustic Guitar, Piano,
Hammond Organ
Karin Bergquist: Vocal

6. Goodbye Charles (2:17)
Mickey Grimm: Drum Kit
Byron House: Upright Bass
Linford Detweiler: Piano

7. Snowed In With You (5:07)
Mickey Grimm: Drum Kit
Byron House: Upright Bass
Fats Kaplin: Violin
Linford Detweiler: Piano
Karin Bergquist: Vocal

8. North Pole Man (3:07)
Byron House: Upright Bass
Linford Detweiler: Acoustic Guitar
Karin Bergquist: Vocal

9. Here It Is (3:24)
Mickey Grimm: Drum Kit and Percussion
Brad Jones: Bass, Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar
Linford Detweiler: Acoustic Guitar, Piano,
Hammond Organ, Bells
Karin Bergquist: Vocal

10. One Olive Jingle (3:55)
Mickey Grimm: Drum Kit and Percussion
Byron House: Upright Bass
Linford Detweiler: Piano
Karin Bergquist: Vocals

11. Snow Angel (4:28)
David Henry: Cello
Linford Detweiler: Piano
Karin Bergquist: Vocal

12. We’re Gonna Pull Through (2:47)
David Henry: Cello
Linford Detweiler: Acoustic Guitar, Piano
Karin Bergquist: Vocal

Production Credits

This is a Great Speckled Dog recording.
Produced by Over the Rhine and Brad Jones.
Recorded by Paul Mahern and Peter Hicks at Nowhere Farm and by Brad Jones at Alex the Great, Nashville, Tennessee. Additional recording by Kevin Loyal at Echo Park Studios, Bloomington, Indiana.
Mixed by Paul Mahern, except “Goodbye Charles” (Brad Jones) and “We’re Gonna Pull Through” (Kevin Loyal).
Mastered by Roger Seibel at SAE Mastering, Phoenix, Arizona. (This music was designed to be played at magnificent volumes.)
Illustration by Clinton Reno.
Photography by Michael Wilson. (Additional photos courtesy of the Bergquist/Detweiler Archive.)
Design by Owen Brock at Visual Fluency. (visualfluency.com)
Booking: Ali Giampino at Billions Corporation. (giampino@billions.com)
Tour management and more: Brandon Dawson.
Live sound: Dave Foreman aka Juicy.

The title “North Pole Man” was inspired by a drawing by Polly Wilson, Age 7, called “North Pole Man Holding A Map Looking For A Warm Place.”

"Hawking original Christmas songs has never been the easiest commercial venture, but Ohio duo Over the Rhine renounced the pursuit of mainstream success long ago. Snow Angels, its 2006 collection of wistful holiday music, didn't reach far beyond the band's devoted following, but it might be the best soundtrack since A Charlie Brown Christmas for feeling melancholy and lovesick in December. Over the Rhine's annual holiday shows promise to draw from Snow Angels and the best of their earthy, dark-roasted catalogue. The band sells its own coffee online and the piano-driven music practically begs to be mused upon over one hot drink or another. Pianist/husband Linford Detweiler crafts songs with gorgeous open spaces, and vocalist/guitarist/wife Karin Bergquist fills them with an emotional range that makes sure the meditative music still flirts and surprises."

- Seattle Weekly

***

"Singer Karin Bergquist and multi-instrumentalist Linford Detweiler share songwriting duties, and with this set of original songs, they've crafted not just one of the year's best holiday albums, but one of its best, period. Knowing the season sparks a multitude of emotions, they explore loneliness, romance, hope, spirituality, wonder and forgiveness, subjects wrapped in music that's evocatively atmospheric and irresistibly melodic. "

- LOS ANGELES TIMES 12/17/07

***

"Most Christmas music lands with the sickening thud of a fruitcake. It's treacly, larded and fake.

The veteran band known as Over the Rhine understand this completely, so they've sought to make their holiday album a dry-eyed assessment of this fraught season.

They've had some practice at it. The Ohio-based band, led by the husband-wife team of Linford Detweiler and Karin Bergquist, issued its first Christmas album 11 years ago, titled "The Darkest Night of the Year." Despite the name, the disk hardly blotted out the lighter aspects of the season. Like that CD, the new "Snow Angels" covers every emotional hue brought on by the day. They've nailed the particular ache of another year ending, when regret and gratitude do their sad and wondrous annual dance.

Hope and longing, sex and death all have their say in these songs. In "White Horse," the singer dreams of an escape that seems far away. In "New Redemption Song," there's an admission of all that's wrong in life, with a prayer it won't always be so.

Bergquist's high, quavering voice holds all the yearning and belief the songs require. She has the bluesy feel of a young Maria Muldaur, matched to the erudition of Eva Cassidy. The music of Detweiler sways lovingly between blues and jazz.

In "Goodbye Charles," he goes wholly for the former. It's an instrumental wink to Vince Guaraldi's brilliant soundtrack for "A Charlie Brown Christmas." Like that music, Detweiler's has a playful bass and a terse piano, landing halfway between the sprightly and the mournful.

Bergquist mines her sexy side in "North Pole Man," an acoustic blues come-on that could have been sung by Bessie Smith. A rethink on "Jingle Bells" turns the song into a chubby chaser's erotic fantasy about Santa.

Over the Rhine also re-wrote the traditional "O Little Town of Bethlehem," making it a comment on the current Middle East. Meanwhile, in "All I Ever Get for Christmas Is Blue," they give in wholly to personal sadness. Even in the final, obligatory song of hope, "We're Gonna Pull Through," the music sounds more tentative than its title suggests.

Yet there's something stirring about this as well. By wrapping up such an honest package about the season, Over the Rhine has given us a gift we can use. "

- NY Daily News 12/16/07

***

"Over the Rhine make wonderful Snow Angels."

- FROM NY PRESS 12/7/06

***

Over the Rhine continue its joyful sounds
By David Freeland

Linford Detweiler, half of the musical duo Over the Rhine, writes on his website, “We hope that Snow Angels is a record that becomes part of the landscape for small gatherings of people who love each other.” It’s a fitting description of a recording whose charm is exceeded only by its musical dexterity. Karin Bergquist, Detweiler’s wife and longtime artistic partner, has always been an exceptional singer, but here she shines in new, varied ways, sounding as girlish as Patty of the Andrews Sisters one minute, as torchy as Sarah Vaughan the next. “Darlin’ (Christmas Is Coming)” could be a long-lost track from Phil Spector’s holiday album, and the emphasis on spirituality (“snow is falling like forgiveness from the sky”) adds depth and a sense of wonder at the beauty of the natural world.

Over the Rhine (named after a struggling, historic Cincinnati neighborhood) has been around since the late 1980s, with members coming and going—although the Detweiler/Bergquist axis has remained steady. Categorizing the group would be useless: It’s been compared (unfairly) to everything from 10,000 Maniacs to contemporary Christian music for its humanistic concern with religious questions (Detweiler is the son of a Protestant minister). Big companies like Virgin and IRS have signed up for a few albums apiece, but OTR has found just as much success working on its own, using word of mouth to build awareness. Overall it has done a remarkable job, although Detweiler occasionally betrays just a hint of frustration at not having gained wider recognition.

“We’ve been waiting for one song to sort of shoot up on the horizon and create a little fireworks display,” he admits, speaking from his Ohio farm (dogs are barking in the background). “I’ve often wondered: Have we suffered from being so isolated? That’s been a real advantage for us in terms of finding ourselves creatively. But the downside is that I think if we lived in a place like New York or Nashville, the amount of work that Karin would be able to do, apart from Over the Rhine, would be significant.”

Detweiler is his wife’s biggest fan, and he supports her with beautifully rendered piano solos on Snow Angels. Together, they’ve made an album bursting with life and creativity, rooted in spiritual issues but set apart through a pacifistic stance (“Put away your swords,” Karin sings on the yearning “Little Town”).

“Spiritually, I’ve been a little bit all over the map. I’ve certainly abandoned my childhood faith, and then have struggled to come back to a place that makes sense to me. As difficult as it can be to reconcile with everything I know, I personally can’t rule out the idea of a benevolent, supreme creator: an artist, a conflicted, creative force. Every time I see the night sky, flung full of stars, something awakens in me.”

- MUSIC FOR PEOPLE WHO LOVE

***

Positively Yeah Yeah Yeah’s ANNUAL Hip Holiday Music feature
by John M. James

Ten years since they treated fans to their first holiday CD, The Darkest Night of the Year, Over the Rhine returns with Snow Angels on the Great Speckled Dog imprint. Somewhere between Billie Holiday, Nat “King” Cole, the Cowboy Junkies, blues voodoo and an Appalachian church’s serenity simmers the amber honey confessional waltz of duo Karin Bergquist and Linford Detweiler. Candle lit with snowflakes falling, these eleven perfect originals are playful, unashamedly romantic, and heart paining redemptive. One cover of sorts fits right in - a softly possessed interpretation of “Jingle Bells” into “One Olive Jingle” - and a piano instrumental finds inspiration from Vince Guaraldi’s Charlie Brown Christmas in “Goodbye Charles.”

This is a Great Speckled Dog recording.
Produced by Over the Rhine and Brad Jones.