Appalachia Music

Twenty Years Ago

Twenty years cover of the civil wars by the pressley girls

Since I shared a video of Paul and Chitter in last week’s Pickin’ and Grinnin’ in the Kitchen Spot, I thought I’d share one with Paul and Chatter today.

Paul helped Chatter learn and record The Civil Wars song Twenty Years for Pap’s special Christmas DVD. Chatter was fighting a cold the day they filmed it. My camera caught her sipping her hot tea to try to loosen up her voice before Paul arrived.

The song is one that makes you think and wonder about the back story. It was written by Joy Williams who was half of The Civil Wars before they moved on to other things. Paul said he heard her say she wrote the song about a secret in her family.

Twenty Years written by Joy Williams

There’s a note underneath your front door
That I wrote twenty years ago
Yellow paper and a faded picture
And a secret in an envelope

There’s no reason, no excuses
There’s no secondhand alibi
Just some black ink on some blue lines
And a shadow you won’t recognize

In the meantime I’ll be waiting
For twenty years, for twenty more
I’ll be praying for redemption
And your note underneath my door

And your note underneath my door


I think it sounds great even if Chatter did need hot tea to get through it! Hope you enjoyed it too.



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  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    February 28, 2016 at 11:23 pm

    Tonight I went back to where I first heard the knee-deeps on Groundhogs Day and they were singing again only many more had joined the chorus. Just to be sure I didn’t go straight home, I drove down Weaver Lane (the road that goes down to the boat ramp above Rhodhiss Dam) where I always hear them in spring. I stopped the truck and listened. They were there right beside the road. Sounded like a hundred or more. I should have dowsed my lights because the longer I sat there the more of them shushed themselves and soon there were none. But, there is no doubt in my mind now. We might get a little more snow and a few more frosty nights, but the real predictors of the weather, the critters who have survived it naked for millions of years, are proclaiming it! Spring is almost here!
    PS: I don’t have a boat but I go down to the boat ramp occasionally, just in case a rich uncle dies and leaves me one, I will know where to put it in. Problem is, I don’t have any uncles left. Actually I do have two but neither one knows me from Adam, so essentially I have none.

  • Reply
    Rev. Rose Marie "RB" Redmond
    February 28, 2016 at 4:46 pm

    Written about a family secret. Hmmm…
    Even after all these years, it’s hard not to wonder, isn’t it.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    February 28, 2016 at 4:03 pm

    Loved the song; then, loved what I learned about the music of The Civil Wars (except that they broke up) and Joy Williams. Y’all are not only great musicians but also wonderful at introducing me to other great music and musicians. (Guess you can tell I don’t get out much!)
    Now about that story – wonder if any of your readers have slipped a note beneath someone’s door – or hoped that someone would slip one under theirs. So many possibilities.

  • Reply
    February 28, 2016 at 3:01 pm

    I watched it on the Tube first, and it is really good..

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    February 28, 2016 at 2:52 pm

    I think Paul adds flavor to most of both girls’ songs. Chatter is doing a great job singing, even if she has a cold. So far I’ve been lucky, no colds or sore throat yet…Ken

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    February 28, 2016 at 2:19 pm

    Reckon if I got me some hot tea I could sing like that? That is plum purty!
    I saw this last night on the Tube. After listening a few times I decided to investigate the origin of the song thinking it was a Civil War song although it sure didn’t sound 150 years old. Eventually I stumbled on the truth. “The Civil Wars!” I had never heard or even heard of them. I guess I have been listening to too much Gillian Welch &amp David Rawlings or Dailey &amp Vincent. And, of course The Pressley Girls!
    Anyway, Paul &amp Chatter are every bit as good as The Civil Wars if not better!

  • Reply
    February 28, 2016 at 12:36 pm

    Wow! Another great performance by Paul and Chatter. Really enjoyed listening as usual and a nice way to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon! Both Chatter and Chitter just keep getting better and better. Paul is awesome as always!

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    February 28, 2016 at 8:53 am

    I thought Paul and Chatter did a wonderful job on the song. I would love her tea recipe if it would help me sing that well..
    We are finally better after a couple of rounds of “crud” the last few weeks. I have kept the Tang, Lemonade, Tea and spice companies in business, making jars full and drinking hot spiced tea since Christmas…ha
    Sure helps when you have a cough.
    I think today’s temperatures and the hint of Spring will cause us all to burst into song..
    Thanks Tipper for the great song this morning.
    PS…Now then, I am pondering the family secret written on the note! Boohoo! ha

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    February 28, 2016 at 7:38 am

    Nice job on that song! That’s a little lower than Chatter usually sings. You would sure never now she was fighting a cold!

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