Letters

November 28, 2001

OVER THE RHINE
P.O. Box 12078
Cincinnati, OH 45212

November 28, 2001

Hello everyone,

The late November sky in Ohio is a gray goosedown comforter flung gently over our town, held aloft by leafless trees. It rained before the sun came up. The branches are dark and slick and feminine. An American flag ripples gently on a front porch down the street. A housewife backs her car out of the driveway: the children are at school. Telephone wires out the attic window cut the world into slung crescents, as if this life was painted a slice at a time.

Someone said that J.R.R. Tolkien expressed disappointment that we would use the word “tree” to describe towering sources of shade. Maybe that’s partly why he felt compelled to invent his own language.

Good heavens, we apologize for the technical glitches with the digest version of the discussion list yesterday. The boys in Boston said that a loop was unwittingly created that spewed out messages by the dozens. Good thing God created the delete button. Sorry about the mess in your e-mailboxes.

Well, this is really just a short note to say we made it back safely from touring 13 countries in Europe and the UK. It was the trip of a lifetime in many ways. So many beautiful cities: Dublin, Copenhagen, Oslo, Berlin, Stockholm, Lisbon, Madrid, Amsterdam, Brussels, Paris, small tucked-away towns in Italy etc. Words seemed to want to fall out of my mouth as I looked around.

Italy is a leatherbound book.
We walk on marbled endpapers
beneath the glass blown sky.

There is something about a
mountain vineyard that seems
to suggest, Hope is not
lost. All may be well with the world
after all.

It was surreal to have the opportunity to perform our bag full of songs in such faraway places. We found the audiences to be warm and curious about a band called Over the Rhine. The Germans were especially protective, explaining that the Rhine has long been considered a source of inspiration for writers and musicians. If we could only name the band after a river in every European country…

Thanks to all who made us feel so welcome.

The beds in Scandanavia seemed to want to wrap us up and comfort us. The Norwegians and Swedes in particular have put alot of thought into their duvets and goosedown pillows. Unbelievable. I now understand why some thick blankets are referred to as “comforters.”

Quickly, if we had to appoint an apartment–start a new life abroad with European goods–and were only allowed to take a few things from each country, this is how we might go about fluffing the nest:

>From France: Wine and Food
>From Italy: Clothing, Shoes, Leatherbound Notebooks 
(Or Vice Versa)
>From Scandanavia (sorry to lump it all together): Beds and Furniture
>From Germany: Cars, Interior Design
>From England: Literature, Rock and Roll, Newspapers
>From Ireland: Guinness, Music, Literature
>From Scotland: Single Malt Scotch (Lagavulin, Laphroaig, Balvenie etc.)
>From Holland: Fresh cut flowers, Bulbs, The Letters of Vincent Van Gogh
>From Belgium: Beer and Chocolate

You get the idea.

We definitely need to spend more time in Spain and sunny Portugal. Those countries seemed to slip through our fingers too quickly. We’re planning on a follow-up European, Over the Rhine tour in the Spring–we’ll keep you posted.

I suppose I was surprised at how good it was to get back home to Ohio. If Europe is a lovely, infinite maze, America is a funky, scrap heap of possibility. We run our errands or heat up leftovers and it all feels as if we’ve won a prize. We’re home!

Well, hope you all are well back here on this side of the ocean and that you had opportunity to feast with family and friends this past week–lift a glass to the good things.

We wanted to make sure you knew you were invited to join us for our December tour, and especially our homecoming show here in Cincinnati on December 7th where we’ll be joined by Buddy and Julie Miller and Erin McKeown. It’s been a hard year in many ways, but a good one. Music feels especially good to me right now for some reason. Hope to see you. Check out the website for the particulars, and we’re going to do something we’ve never done: e-mail you a tiny poster that you can print out and give to friends and family if you wish. Or you can discreetly post a copy in a cafe 2000 miles away. In case you were wondering, here is the line-up for the December tour:
Dale Baker: Drums
Wade Jaynes: Bass
Jack Henderson: Electric Guitar
Linford Detweiler: Keyboards
Karin Bergquist: Vocals, Acoustic Guitar

We’re hoping to have Kim Taylor sit in on a few things over the course of the 
tour, and at the Taft show in Cincinnati, we’ll try to get everyone up on 
stage for a few rousing numbers.

We were encouraged by many of the thought-provoking responses we received directly or via the e-mail discussion list regarding the history and future of the list. More on that later. In the meanwhile we encourage you to participate, and we’re going to try to make appearances on the list when we can.

I believe that’s about it for now. Hope to see you down the road somewhere before year’s end.

Peace on earth, goodwill to you and yours,

Linford Detweiler for Over the Rhine