The line “Postcards, Poetry and Prose” came out of a songwriting weekend with one of my heroes. In 2016 I had the opportunity to jump a plane from upstate NY to Highland County, Ohio – outside of Cincinnati, and spend 3 days in a songwriting workshop with one of my favorite artists ever – Linford Detweiler of Over the Rhine. I went into the experience so eager to learn from him where his songs come from and get better at writing what I call ‘story songs’ – a song with sense of place, time, plot and characters rather than relying on my own experiences.

A small group of us holed up at Nowhere Else (their farm/venue) to learn from Linford, share ideas and do some writing. This song’s seeds were planted at the farm as part of a writing exercise that I was a part of. We were paired off into groups and had 3 hours to write a song. From scratch. The bones of ‘Postcards’ grew out of that session.

I remember sitting at Linford’s electric piano (which had a hand in writing so many OtR records) noodling around looking for a chorus or hook when I landed on that F#m progression that become the final chorus – and got a ‘there’s a little something there…’ from Linford as he was passing through our space to check on our progress – and soon after that the lyric ’can we hold on to what we need the most…. In postcards, poetry and prose’ followed.

The final idea sounds nothing like the original concept – but you’ll see it’s origin. Below, check out myself, Rachel Hebert and Alyssa Mann Creasy demoing a distant cousin of ‘Postcards’ from that songwriting session at Nowhere Else.

April 2016 | Songwriter's Workshop Concept

June 2016 – Concepts/First Drafts

When I got back from Ohio I really wanted to make something out of that chorus and it took quite a bit of time to get there. I guess the ‘concept’ of the song is two people writing letters or postcards back and forth – I originally thought it would be recorded as a duet but ended up deciding against that as time went on. We’ll see if it works with a single voice.

I also borrowed some lines and ideas from one of my favorite poems. It’s called ‘A Wife Explains Why She Likes Country’ by Barbara Ras (excerpt below).

“the hubbub of the hoi polloi, the parallel lines of rail fences,
because I like rodeos more than I like golf,
because there’s something about the sound of mealworms and
leeches and the dream of a double-wide
that reminds me this is America, because of the simple pleasure
of a last chance, because sometimes whiskey
tastes better than wine, because hauling hogs on the road
is as good as it gets when the big bodies are layered like pigs in a cake,
not one layer but two,
because only country has a gun with a full choke and slide guitar
that melts playing it cool into sweaty surrender in one note,
because in country you can smoke forever and it’ll never kill you,”

1st Demo (instrumental)

Dear honey you still turn my brown eyes blue
Know Barcelona still misses you
Remember dancing flamenco on railroad tracks
Lucky Strikes and backpacks, needles in a haystack

Dear darling you always have seen so clear
The secret’s to fall in love once a year
May you find someone better than all before
Someone worth standing in the rain for – changing your name for

Can we hold on to what we need the most,
in postcards, poetry and prose

She said I got me a cowboy on mountain time
Sometimes the whiskey is better than wine
Sometimes our dreams fit in double-wides
Sometimes they’re bigger than the constellations,
They’re bigger than the skies

Can we hold on to sinners, saints and ghosts
In postcards, poetry and prose

I still have your letters, you crossed my mind
Now I got me a daughter, she’s got my eyes
And I found me a woman that treats me kind
She’s worth standing in the rain for,
I’m worth changing her name for

Can we hold on to what we need the most,
in postcards, poetry and prose

Can we hold on to sinners, saints and ghosts,
in postcards, poetry and prose


Ben Salzman | Drums
Dr. Heather Malyuk | Violin
Ryan Miller | Vox, Guitars, Upright Bass, Organ
Matt Wagner | Engineering/Mixing/Mastering


Postcards (reprise)