I recently came across The Civil Wars, a due made up of singer-songwriters Joy Williams and John Paul White, while browsing iTunes. I was immediately attracted to their music and downloaded their first album, Barton Hollow, which was released in February.

It’s a great album, and I’m enjoying listening to it, but one of my instant favorite songs on the album is a bonus track, a cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Dance Me to the End of Love.” Here’s a live version of The Civil Wars singing it:

[youtube+http://youtu.be/ED97KMfm8O8]

I love this version of the song. It’s romantic, beautiful, and haunting — I’ve been singing it and playing it in my head all week! I also love one of the comments on this video: “these two need to get a room.” I love the playful sexiness going on in this performance. Having watched a few other YouTube clips of them singing live, I can say that it’s not always this incendiary, but it’s always great! (Note: since Williams is married, I assume this sexiness is part of the act rather than a reflection of them having an off-stage relationship.) I’ll have to keep an eye on their concert schedule — I’d love to see them live sometime.

The Leonard Cohen version is quite different:

[youtube+http://youtu.be/7pA5UhNaYw0]

PJ loves Cohen’s music and really likes his version of this song, but I think The Civil Wars’ version is wonderful. To his each own, I guess!

Here are the lyrics:

Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin
Dance me through the panic ’til I’m gathered safely in
Lift me like an olive branch and be my homeward dove
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the end of love
Oh let me see your beauty when the witnesses are gone
Let me feel you moving like they do in Babylon
Show me slowly what I only know the limits of
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the end of love

Dance me to the wedding now, dance me on and on
Dance me very tenderly and dance me very long
We’re both of us beneath our love, we’re both of us above
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the end of love

Dance me to the children who are asking to be born
Dance me through the curtains that our kisses have outworn
Raise a tent of shelter now, though every thread is torn
Dance me to the end of love

Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin
Dance me through the panic till I’m gathered safely in
Touch me with your naked hand or touch me with your glove
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the end of love

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