Posted by: pendrops | September 3, 2007



“I always wanted to cry at New Kids on the Block concerts,” I told Jason as we left the downtown Nashville club last night. He laughed, but I continued.

“I always wanted to be so stirred by my emotion, by my love for Jordan, that I would just start swooning and sobbing.”

I laughed, too, and then stared out the window, thinking about the concert we’d just been to. “I never did cry at a New Kids concert. But tonight, I could hardly stop.”

“Yeah, it was a powerful concert,” Jason responded. We rode in silence a little while before delving into all the things we liked and loved about that night’s Over the Rhine performance.

The folky-alt-country-jazz-rock-and-otherwise-unclassifiable group, best-known for songs like “Ohio,” “Jesus in New Orleans” and “B.P.D,” mostly played songs from their brilliant recent release, The Trumpet Child, proving again that they are a class act, impeccable performers on a journey and on a mission, singing,

I hope this night puts down deep roots
I hope we plant a seed
‘Cause I don’t wanna waste your time
With music you don’t need

Not only was the group flawless in their execution of evocative melodies, exceptional instrumentation, and heart-rending lyrics, but they challenged everyone there to move beyond the bustling servers, the packed room, and the world outside to see something more, something deeper.

One example of this came when angelically sexy, humbly confident lead-singing Karin Bergquist sang with honesty and conviction a song that can be presumed is about the near-end of her marriage several years ago:

I wanna do better,
I wanna try harder,
I wanna believe down to the letter.

Jesus and Mary,
Can you carry us
Across this ocean,
Into the arms of forgiveness

After the song ended, she looked back at her sickly talented piano-playing husband, Linford Detweiler, and smiled. He smiled back while many in the crowd wiped tears, yours truly included.

Over the Rhine‘s songs have been a refuge where God has introduced healing, joy, restoration and redemption time and again in my life, and the live performance offered even more of the same. As we all crammed in the dingy dive to listen and watch these artists who write such raw and transparent, necessary and holy lyrics, there came a sense that something more was going on. Something that felt like being led by still waters, like lying down in green pastures, like receiving a balm for the ears, the mind, and the soul.

Of course, songs like “Trouble” and “If a Song Could Be President” left us laughing and smiling, swaying and clapping, all as purposeful as the soul-searching. But in all of it there was purpose.

Detweiler speaks about the group’s aim on their site: “Every song has to be good, every record has to be great, every concert has to have some spiritual significance — something that we can’t quantify, something bigger than all of us.”

Mission accomplished. Thanks, OtR.

P.S. Be good to yourself and pick up one of OtR’s albums, maybe starting with “Ohio,” “Drunkard’s Prayer,” or “The Trumpet Child.”


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