The Long Surrender

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I’m working on a piece for Paris Review that afforded me the opportunity to receive in yesterday’s mail and hold in my hands one extraordinary object:  the deluxe box set of Over the Rhine‘s remarkable 2011 album, “The Long Surrender,” produced by Joe Henry.  It was at the top of my list of favorite recordings last year.  The deluxe set includes vinyl, cd, and a 32-page LP-sized book with magnificent photographs by Michael Wilson.  It’s a moving work of art – the music, the photography, the care and attention and love so evident and powerful.

In 2006 I went to see Wilco at Memorial Hall in Chapel Hill.  At the time I was sporting a cast and crutches after falling and breaking my ankle in the subway at 86th and Broadway that January.  It was a struggle to make it to the show.  Because of my handicap the kind folks at Memorial allowed me to sit in an individual chair on the first row of the balcony.  I basically had the best seat in the house for what was a terrific show.  But what I remember most about that night is being stopped dead by the cover of Glenn Kotche’s album, “Mobile,” which was displayed on the merchandise table.  It features a photograph of Kotche’s hand.  When I first saw it I thought it was a flower.  I bought the cd, saw the credit for Michael Wilson, reached out to him, and bought a print of that photograph.  Since then I’ve become a big fan of his work.  He achieves a certain light in his work, no matter the subject, that is unmistakably his own.

images-Sam Stephenson

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