linford detweiler quotes

Linford Detweiler, one half of the folk-jazz-pop- bluegrass-acoustic duo Over the Rhine, spoke last week at North Park University.  OtR usually comes up on my "top 3" favorite bands list for a long list of reasons, but the not the least that they project a view of the world that sees doubt as part of faith, winter as warm, and back-roads as essential to human experience.

I'd never seen Linford speak more than a few words (he doesn't talk a lot at concerts, usually letting his partner Karin Bergquist hold down center stage).  His topic was on faith and art, which he approached mostly by storytelling through parts of his childhood.

Some quotes (not quite verbatim, cause I was sketching them with my thumbs on my Treo keyboard—which can also be thanked for the blurry picture—but pretty accurate).

All good art involves getting caught up in a story that's bigger than you.

My father grew up in Amish community.  No tv, no radio, no electricity.  He was restless.  The first thing he did that was unusual was sketch faces along the whitewashed barn.  People from the community came by and recognized themselves.

At one point [my father] discovered the reel to reel tape recorder.  He'd take it out to the woods and point that microphone at the swamp, the insect symphony, that extravagant useless beauty that's all around us.

At breakfast he take these recordings and play them for us as we leaned over our hot cereal.

Linford explained that in the religious tradition he grew up in, instruments were not allowed (with the exception of a harmonica, which he didn't understand. Was portability a criterion?). The piano, Linford's home instrument, was considered a sin, and he didn't know immediately what one was.

The first time I heard a piano:  My mother took me to visit an adopted boy. He was sitting at a small wooden house with pedals like a car...

The first time I heard the trumpet: " It pierced me.  It was like I was thinking my first thoughts.  And one of them was: I'm out here. That sound is coming from up there. I need to be where the sound is coming from

On advice to young song writers:

"Are there powerful early memories that you have that you need to take care of?"

"Write the song that someone would listen to on the next to last day of their life. Maybe that's the song you're called to write."