Sacred Heart

Album: The Civil Wars (2013)
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  • Joy Williams and John Paul White of The Civil Wars wrote this song one cold night in a Paris flat, with the Eiffel Tower in full view. Williams recalled: "Tall windows, Victorian furniture, and somehow the atmosphere of all of that seeped into the song."

    Very romantic, right?

    Well, The Civil Wars had an odd relationship. They were married to other people but had striking chemistry - when they posed for pictures you wouldn't have guessed they were merely friends and co-workers. Williams said that her husband was there when they wrote this song, and they were all drinking wine together.

    The song was included on their eponymous second album, which ended up being their last. They never got to perform the songs because they had fractured by the time it was released.
  • Williams sings the song in French. She recalled: "I wrote what words I knew in French, and then had a Parisian friend named Renata Pepper (yes, that's her real name) look it over later and help me translate. When we recorded the song for the album, I called in a French professor from Vanderbilt named Becky Peterson, who has now become a good friend."
  • An English translation of the start of the song is:

    "When I walk in the street.
    The street to the Sacred Heart."

    The Sacré-Cœur (Sacred Heart) Basilica is a Roman Catholic church in Paris. It is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, an increasingly popular vision of a loving and sympathetic Christ. The church was planned in 1873 with the aim of expiating the spiritual and moral collapse of France, which was felt to have led to the defeat of the French by the Prussians. Its location on the summit of the butte Montmartre, ('martyrs mount'), the highest point in the city, was deliberate.


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