We are waiting for the music.
Before it was even written we were waiting, without knowing, like deer frozen in the woods, ears twitching.
The music, bewitched and betrothed and bitter. The music, a snake slithering around a cross, sickness and healing. The music, a Flannery O’Connor story as told by Over The Rhine. The music, divinely inspired, divinely possessed.
We are waiting for the music and the waiting, the waiting is like Russian dolls wrapped separately that we rip and open and open and rip.
In a moment, in the shapely and shifting sea of darkness, a stagehand appears, his flashlight a mobile lighthouse, leading two figures toward the front of the stage. The closer they come, the louder we scream and clap, playing a crazy game of hot and cold – yes, hot, hotter, we’re on fire, we’re melting –
The lighthouse is switched off and daylight floods the stage, exposing them, self-conscious and smiling, somehow larger and smaller and closer than I expected: individually, they are Joy Williams, a nymfairy with butterfly hands, and John Paul White, an early 1800s philosopher in need of a drink. Collectively, they are The Civil Wars, dressed in their Sunday best and blackest, with the gothic whimsy of a Tim Burton film and the passionate reverence of a Southern Baptist Funeral. Through the raucous waves of our adoration, they keep their balance, keep their smiles.
And the music begins.