With over 100 bands playing Manchester’s Bonnaroo 2012, it’s nearly impossible for you to be familiar with all of them. Fortunately, sites like Youtube and Spotify have made it easier than ever to discover a band’s catalog prior to Bonnaroo.
In this series, we will be profiling Bonnaroo 2012 artists by providing a list of songs from the artists catalog that provide an excellent primer for those who are either unfamiliar with the artist or only familiar with the hits. For this series, we didn’t just pick the “hits” or even the songs most likely to be played in concert, but aimed for a wide range of songs to show off every facet of the artist’s catalog.
Today, we’ll be looking at breakout Americana sensations The Civil Wars. Only formed in 2008, The Civil Wars have ridden a fast wave to stardom, with a prominent song placement on Grey’s Anatomy, a pair of 2011 Grammy Awards, and a current hit backing up Taylor Swift on the Hunger Games soundtrack. With only one album to pick from, 2010’s Barton Hollow, we won’t be choosing 10 songs, since that’s practically the entire album, but what we think are the 5 best that represent the band’s diversity.
The title cut from The Civil Wars’ debut album gives you the best glimpse into the band’s potential. A Southern Gothic masterpiece right out of the Raconteurs mold, “Barton Hollow” is a great story song and shows off Joy Williams’ powerful voice at its best.
Poison & Wine
The band’s most well-known work due to its appearance on Grey’s Anatomy, it’s one of The Civil Wars more interesting ones as well. The chorus, “I don’t love you, and I always will”, is a nice one line summary of the kind of poisonous love-hate relationships that so many of us have experienced.
C’est La Mort
A hauntingly beautiful suicide song, “C’est La Mort” counters “Poison & Wine” with the tale of a love affair so strong the singer is willing to follow her lover through both life and death.
Yet another facet of love, The Civil Wars delve into the unrequited kind with “20 Years”, telling the tale of someone who “will be waiting for 20 years, and 20 more.” It’s a great album opener and a good example of White and Williams’ strength in writing sparse lyrics that impart huge emotions.
The Civil Wars contribution to the Hunger Games soundtrack is one of the T-Bone Burnett produced album’s true highlights. During its short run time, the lyrics do a great job of invoking the kind of paranoid fear that fits the movie’s premise well.
What song do you hope The Civil Wars play at Bonnaroo 2012? Got a favorite you think others should hear? Let us know in the comments sections.
If you have Spotify, you can hear all of the songs in this and all of our Essentials articles with our Bonnaroo Essentials Spotify Playlist.