A Long Lost Goodbye: An Open Letter To Joy Williams and John Paul White

It was a cold, humid night and those who know do know that humid is the worst kind of cold. I was living in this huge house with four other people and about as many animals. The sound of the trees in our enormous savage garden was in my ears. I was lying in my bed, the walls of my room were made of a cold breeze. I had my computer on my lap and was scrolling down a certain website, wasting time, not knowing what do with my life, then I stumbled upon a song that a very old friend had shared. It was called „Falling“ and I couldn’t believe my ears. I couldn’t believe that these words and melodies were coming out of a person who was not myself. I was speechless, that two people whom I don’t even know could sing my heart out. I was surrounded by that song immediately and played it more than a few times in a row that night.

Days went by and I found more and more music by you, my dearest Joy Williams, my dearest John Paul White. I admired every new sound I got: Barton Hollow, C’est La Mort, Birds of a Feather, Poison & Wine… Your voices sounded like two poles changing their fronts every now and then – they were so harmonious that it was difficult to tell them apart. You were no longer two individuals from my perception, but one single unit. Not particularly musicians or people, but a very familiar feeling from deep within my soul.


Music has always been a huge part of my life but usually I need my time to get used to new pieces. I don’t rush into anything. I take my time and take those steps of saying it was okay to loving it cautiously. But this time it was different. I listened to your music every single day. I knew all the words and I always sang along. Never before fell I in love with someone’s music so fast. I would even identify myself with it, like, if someone would ask me who I was, I could tell them to go listen to your music if they wanted to get to know me. It was no longer something as abstract as music, but something concrete, touchable like a person I loved.

I danced to „I’ve Got This Friend“.

I took photographs to „Forget Me Not“.

I was „The Girl With The Red Baloon“.

And finally the day I was wishing for way too long came along: A concert in my city on 26. March 2012! I called my boyfriend, who is now my husband, and gave him the good news. We got ourselves tickets shortly after, little that we know that the show was first going to be postponed till December and then canceled short before that. You anounced the halt of the europian tour with the following message:


I was devastated, especially because I didn’t know what had happened. I kept telling myself it was just a cancellation of the tour, not a whole break-up. I didn’t lose my hope entirely to see you live someday. It was going to happen. You could never throw it all away, after all you had won four grammies. One does not simply throw something so special away.

When you released your sophomore album in May 2013 with the name „The Civil Wars“ I was excited – broken but still excited. Though I could never get over the feeling that your relationship was somehow too fragile and the album somehow confirmed it. If someone would just listen to Dust To Dust carefully they’ll know how difficult it was for you to communicate. How you were the same person but yet so different. It must have been like staring at your own reflection in the mirror: Everything is perfectly the same and just as wrong at the same time.

Shortly after the release my boyfriend and I broke up. The breakup took a month and it made me very sick – I didn’t leave my apartment and didn’t speak to anyone if I didn’t have to. The album was like a substitute to everything – my boyfriend, my health, my life… It was full of wonderful new material: Devil’s Backbone, Dust To Dust, From This Valley, Eavesdrop… I was enjoying it and it was pretty much anything I could enjoy.

And not long after that announced your final break up:

The Civil Wars—made up of duo partners Joy Williams and John Paul White—have regretfully decided to permanently part ways. The difficult decision ends a tumultuous period for the four-time Grammy Award-winning band, who has been on indefinite hiatus since late 2012.

I kept on living my life and one thing led to another the way things do. My boyfriend and I got back together, I changed apartments, changed my field of studies just to break it off someday too. Kept working in the café where I still work today, kept making music for which I no longer have energy for… All these years these two albums of you have been the soundtrack of my life. Good days and hard days came and went, but they were always with me, accompanying my every step.

My dearest Joy, maybe you’ve been speaking a dead language but I hope it’s just lost in translation.

My dearest John Paul, you’re probably home by now but please turn around!

I know my patience is appreciated and you consider it a virtue. But it’s been two years and a half since you left me. It’s been so long, I no longer know if I’m wasting my time writing this to you. I don’t know if you care, you probably don’t.

But this isn’t right and you know it. You made me love you just so you can leave me. You broke up with me and didn’t even tell me why. Telling someone why is actually the least one can do. You didn’t even give me that.

But I know. I know that you’ve been lonely too long.

If you come home real soon, I will have a light on for you.

Forever yours,