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Over The Rhine: A Whole Life In A Song

Over the Rhine is the musical partnership of husband and wife Linford Detweiler and Karin Bergquist. They're from southern Ohio, and they took their name from the Cincinnati neighborhood where they used to live. The band has existed for 20 years now, and while the lineup has changed many times, Detweiler and Bergquist have always been at its core.

The two split songwriting duties, but it's mostly the classically trained Bergquist who sings.

"The first time I heard Karin's voice, I knew there was something special there," Detweiler says in an interview with All Things Considered host Melissa Block. "I loved the fact that her voice came from the place where her pain lived."

Entwining their music and personal lives often means being brutally honest about each other's work.

"We edit each other shamelessly," Bergquist says. "You want to always improve, you want to get better. If you know your partner isn't doing their best work — it's a tough conversation to have, but it goes both ways."

The Long Surrender puts that tension on full display with tracks like "Infamous Love Song." Stretching more than six minutes, the song seems to offer the story of a relationship with the weight of years on it — one that has ripened and endured rough patches.

"Some people write love songs about what happens in the beginning of a relationship," Bergquist says. "We've sort of moved on to what happens during the bulk of that relationship — the work, the investment, the commitment, you know? And some of it doesn't really sound all that sexy."

But Bergquist and Detweiler also say they hope their lyrics connect on a universal level — one in which Detweiler says listeners can "lay their particulars over the song like a transparency."

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NPR Staff