Song of the Day: Over the Rhine - Etcetera Whatever

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This band has been around since the 90s, maybe even the late 80s, making brilliant folk/pop/rock/blues/adult alternative/whatever type music. They’re the sort of band that other musicians love to love. The core of the band is husband-wife duo Linford Detweiler on piano and Karin Bergquist on vocals. The rest of the band has been a revolving cast, and in the half-dozen times I’ve seen them live, roughly half of those have featured just the pair.

They’ve always danced around the edge of whatever “Christian music” means, always dropping hints about their faith, but simultaneously distancing themselves from the industrial machinations of the Christian music industry. All this from day one, actually–long before it was hip to do so.

My favorite album of theirs has always been the sublime Good Dog, Bad Dog. How can I describe it? It’s dark and hopeful. Sad and beautiful. Desperate. It clings to meaning, all the while struggling to find it. I first became acquainted with the album when my wife and I were newlyweds. We were dirt poor ministerial students. We both had a lot of baggage from our own childhood upbringing and the dysfunctions we’d grown up with. Good Dog, Bad Dog seems to have been written from similar struggles, though it’s never explicitly stated as such. Case in point is “Etcetera Whatever.”

We don’t need a lot of money, we’ll be sleeping on the beach
Keeping oceans within reach–whatever private oceans we can conjure up for free
I will stumble there with you and you’ll be laughing close with me
Trying not to make a scene–Etcetera, whatever
I guess all I really mean . . . is we’re gonna be alright
Yeah we’re gonna be alright
You can close your eyes tonight
We’re gonna be alright

The song contains both dissonant darkness and a hopeful melody. It’s a lot like life. A life with both struggle and hope. Truth and confusion. Beauty and pain. In other words, it’s real.

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Timo Cuoco
December 15, 2023 5:31 pm

This band is really good. My faves are Happy w/ Myself & Jacksie

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