February 11, 2005

P.O. Box 12078
Cincinnati, OH 45212

February 11, 2005

Goodbye Grey Ghost

Hello fellow travelers,

Another overcast, chilly winter day here in Ohio. Hopefully all the clouds just mean that nature is stirring up some cosmic cookie dough in the sky. Hopefully the sun will come out before too long, and we’ll have spring, fresh out of the oven.

I love snow, but this time of year, all the trees start looking a little forlorn, a little impatient. This time of year is all about lookin’ forward, I guess.


Karin and I just got back from Barnesville, Ohio. We got a sad call from Lisa, Karin’s best childhood friend, the matron of honor at our wedding. Lisa’s son Brandon had been killed instantly in a car accident. He was a freshman at Kent State University.

In many ways, Brandon was the kid that we all wanted to be. He was well loved by his peers, athletic, adventurous, a hard worker, funny, girls loved him, he made his family proud. And then he was gone.

So we drove up for a few days to participate in some of the worst that life has to offer. It was good to stay with Lisa and her family – cry together, reminisce together, be quiet together, talk when talk was needed.

It was heartening to see the support from the surrounding community. About 1400 people showed up at the viewing in the tiny town of Barnesville to pay their respects to the family – students, friends, Amish neighbors, co-workers´┐Ż

Now we all try to take some of the heartbreak home and live with it. We can’t imagine, but we hope in small ways to bear each others burdens. We think about our faith. We believe, and we pray for help with our unbelief.

Make sure the people you love know they are loved.


Karin and I have sold our house to a young family and will be moving this Spring. Two young boys, Collin and Aidan, will explore this attic with its odd angles where I’ve tried to write. Chad, the father, will be poking around in the basement where we currently store all the oversized posters. Renee will be kneeling in the roses that Karin planted. Maybe they’ll all sit like we used to under the grape vines. May they be blessed.

Our friends helped us get our foot in the front door of this forbidding old Victorian and by some miracle, the songs that we wrote and often recorded right here enabled us to pay them back. When Karin and I got married, we still had separate apartments. But this is where we set up shop together. We lovingly called this big wooden house the Grey Ghost. We tried to be good to the house. It was good to us.

This is the house where Karin taught herself to cook. This is the house where I sat at the table and said, Wow. I love that woman.

And this is the house where quite often on New Year’s Eve we’d gather some friends together for food, stories, poems, music. After midnight, my men friends and I (Oh, and Aralee would usually join us) would stomp up the stairs and gather ’round in the attic, and the top of the house would fill with aromatic cigar smoke. The cigar of choice was called the “Hemingway Short Story.” We talked and smoked into the wee hours and sipped our Lagavulin. For those few hours, no matter what the New Year might bring, we were unstoppable.

It was here at the Grey Ghost that we put together and released:

Amateur Shortwave Radio
Films For Radio
The Cutting Room Floor
Changes Come (Over the Rhine LIVE)
Drunkard’s Prayer

And my three house-bound solo albums:

I Don’t Think There’s No Need To Bring Nothin’
Grey Ghost Stories
Unspoken Requests

It’s been a good chapter.

Make sure the people you love know they are loved.


Where are we going, you ask?

Ah, be careful of your dreams. After years of rambling about Imaginary Apple Orchards and philosopher farmers (Wendell Berry, Robert Frost, Rockwell Kent, The Wyeths et al), Karin and I bought a little 5-acre farm outside of Cincinnati, with an old pre-Civil War brick house, with crooked floors, with cracked windows, with melancholy mice.

What have we done!

But we can see the sky properly. We can build proper fires. We can plant new trees and watch them grow in the shadows of the old ones that are already there. We can grow our own food. Karin says, We’re aging musicians, and we need to become more self-sufficient!

I would like to have the Amish help me with a windmill to draw well water for the garden.

One night a lop-sided pregnant moon came up behind the dilapidated barn and took our breath away. One night we heard the owls calling across the fields.

We’ll probably have to take the barn down and rebuild someday. We’re going to be careful with those hand-hewn beams.

What will this do to us and our music? We’re not sure. Say a prayer.

Make sure the people you love know they are loved.


Our new record is coming out March 29th. It’s called Drunkard’s Prayer. It was recorded right here in the rooms of the Grey Ghost. I am proud of all of our records, flaws and all. Each represents a time in our lives, and we poured ourselves into each. But there’s something about Drunkard’s Prayer that is special-hard to put into words. Even after all these years, I think I can finally say I have a favorite.

We’ll be posting all the info soon. Soon, you can pre-order one if you wish. Karin and I will sit down here at the Grey Ghost one last time and sign the pre-ordered copies until our fingers ache. We’ll play music, pour a glass of wine, talk deep into the night. Who knows what we’ll find.

We’ll also let you know more soon about some of our upcoming trips. We’re not going to be away for long periods of time this year, but we’ve got some warm-up shows coming up in the Northeast. We’re playing some release concerts here in Cincinnati at the 20th Century Theater in Oakley, March 31st and April 1st, then a trio of shows in Dayton, and then we’re heading for the West Coast later in April. We’re happy to announce a very special guest: Kim Taylor will be opening for us this year, and sitting in with us some along the way. Stay tuned at overtherhine.com for more. We’re looking forward to seeing you.

Make sure the people you love know they are loved.

Bye for now,

Linford for Over the Rhine