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Why Did The Civil Wars Break Up? (Find Out)

Why Did The Civil Wars Break Up? (Find Out)

Joy Williams and John Paul White made up the American musical duo The Civil Wars. The Civil Wars, which formed in 2008, won four Grammy Awards before breaking up in 2014.

The Civil Wars, an Americana, folk, and country duet made up of guitarist John Paul White and vocalist Joy Williams, gained popularity quickly when their 2009 digital album Live at Eddie’s Attic was released.

Later that year, the pair released the Poison & Wine EP, and in 2010, they teamed up with producer Charlie Peacock to start work on a full-length album. Barton Hollow, the outcome, was published in February 2011 and immediately reached the Billboard Top 20 and topped the digital charts.

History of the Civil Wars

Civil wars stage performance
Civil Wars stage performance
  • Williams and White first met in 2008 during a songwriting workshop or “writing camp” held at a studio in Nashville, Tennessee. Williams claims that while “driving around town looking at all the Civil War monuments,” she had the idea for the band’s name. Their debut CD, Live at Eddie’s Attic, was a free Internet download of a 2009 concert at Georgia’s Eddie’s Attic.
  • Later that year, they released the Charlie Peacock-produced digital extended-play album Poison & Wine, whose title song was used on Grey’s Anatomy. The album Barton Hollow by The Civil Wars, which was published in 2011, peaked at No. 12 on the Billboard 200 list, No. 54 on the UK Albums list, and earned Grammy nominations for Best Folk Album and Best Country Duo/Group Performance.
  • NPR Music, Paste, Time, Associated Press,, The Wall Street Journal, Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, and USA Today are just a few of the publications that placed the album on their lists of the Best Albums of 2011. They made the singles “Safe & Sound” and “Tracks in the Snow” available. T-Bone Burnett and The Civil Wars worked together on the film music for the documentary A Place At The Table (formerly known as Finding North) in 2012, and they also worked on the song “Lily Love” with The Chieftains.
  • In April, they issued a 7′′ vinyl record that included covers of Portishead’s “Sour Times” and “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson. The pair published a picture book titled To Whom It May Concern, and they were featured in American Way, USA Today, and Billboard. The pair took a break in November 2012, claiming “internal conflict and insoluble differences of ambition.” The Civil Wars made a formal breakup announcement through a press release in August 2014.
Presenting live concert
Presenting live concert

Songs by the Civil Wars

Here’s the list of some songs sung by the Civil Wars.

Song NameAlbum NameGenresYear Released
Poison & WineLive at Eddie’s AtticSinger-Songwriter, Folk2009
Barton HollowBarton HollowFolk2011
The One That Got AwayThe Civil WarsAlternative/Indie, Singer-Songwriter, Folk2013
Dust to DustThe Civil WarsAlternative/Indie, Singer-Songwriter, Folk2013
Devil’s BackboneThe Civil WarsAlternative/Indie, Singer-Songwriter, Folk2013
Dance Me to the End of LoveLive at Eddie’s AtticFolk2009
I Had Me A GirlThe Civil WarsAlternative/Indie, Singer-Songwriter, Folk2013
I’ve Got This FriendBarton HollowAlternative/Indie2011
DisarmLive At AmoebaAlternative/Indie, Singer-Songwriter, Folk2012
FallingLive at Eddie’s AtticAlternative/Indie, Indie folk2009
Same Old Same OldThe Civil WarsAlternative/Indie, Singer-Songwriter, Folk2013
If I Didn’t Know BetterLive at Eddie’s AtticSinger-Songwriter, Folk2009
Birds of a FeatherBarton HollowAlternative/Indie2011
You Are My SunshineBarton Hollow 2011
I Want You BackBarton Hollow 2011
A quick review of their songs

Reasons for Breaking up of The Civil Wars

Joy Williams and John Paul White have dominated the Americana and folk music industries since their 2009 Civil Wars debut. Despite having only two albums to their credit, they succeeded in building a significant following.

When the pair teamed up with Taylor Swift to write “Safe & Sound” for The Hunger Games soundtrack in 2011, the number of their supporters grew even more.

Joy’s Statement

Joy said, “It was a very powerful creative connection that John Paul and I had,” in regard to their time in the Civil Wars, in a 2015 interview with WNYC’s radio program Death, Sex & Money. But the Americana duo’s artistic relationship quickly came to an adverse turn.

I’m sorry we’ve stopped speaking. And, yes, in a way I feel like I’m gazing at a ghost,” she said. And, according to me, there were an enormous amount of rumors that were spread. Joy was referring to the “Rumors” that her relationship with John Paul was more than just accidental.

For background, let’s note that Joy and Nate Yetton had been wed since 2004, long before the Civil Wars gained popularity.

How do we maintain our connection as a couple such that it doesn’t get in the way or cause conflict? And throughout the Civil War era, we made a great effort to improve that aspect of our marriage,” she added.

For Joy, life turned into a balancing act. When you say no to one thing, you automatically say yes to another. You must carefully consider the answers to those questions. And well, it occurred to me.

The Civil Wars’ 2012 cancellation of their European tour was the turning point in their relationship with the two stars. Joy recalled, “I wanted one thing, and he didn’t want that. And a professional disagreement might come out as extremely personal. I went through a creative divorce rather than a marital separation.

Before the breakup, another performance

Release of Solo Songs

Joy claims to have resolved all of her difficulties with Nate in the present and has begun releasing solo songs. John Paul, meantime, has been putting out solo music since 2016. The updated version of “Safe & Sound,” John Paul and Joy’s duet with Taylor, is now accessible on major streaming services.

In a 2015 interview, Joy discussed the close creative bond she had with John Paul when they were filming The Civil Wars, but she also said that things between them got worse very rapidly.

She clarified that she and her husband had been dating since 2004, long before The Civil Wars gained popularity, in response to claims that their relationship went beyond a solely professional one.

Joy has accepted that The Civil Wars may never release new music, despite the hurt of the band’s dissolution. She admires the distinctive and magnificent work they created together and believes the band’s journey and mysterious character to be intriguing elements of their tale.

Let’s watch The Civil Wars’ Poison & Wine music video.


  • The gothic-folk power ballad may have been co-invented by John Paul White.
  • Civil Wars, whose 2011 album Barton Hollow has sold more than 500,000 copies, many of them before being signed up by a big label. The Civil Wars even promised to pay back supporters for their travel expenses.
  • The Civil Wars quickly made a music video for “Poison & Wine” and posted the freshly recorded song on iTunes.
  • The Civil Wars’ superb harmonies and unique sound won them praise from the critics.
  • With a mix of folk, country, and rock elements, The Civil Wars produce lovely harmonies.
  • They’ve received praise as one of the most prosperous teams in recent memory. They provide a melodious and entrancing tone.

Click here to view the visual story version of this article.

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