I'm such an embarassing goon about Josh Ritter, and gee, talk about swooning: I'm always swooning over the guy. It's probably because I've never satisfactorily turned even one person on to this music that I hold so dear, but I should know by now to not attempt to influence others.... to each their own, dear Kami, to each their own.
I truly do not know how to describe how it all makes me feel. There's just pieces of art that I've loved so much, they just lift me out of my life or this one narrow view of the world, and make me see that the world is really suffused with meaning and mystery. It makes my eyes prickle with tears, that feeling of transport, it's almost that painfully sweet, heart-hurting feeling like when you first fall in love and you almost can't even get close enough to satiate that feeling of how in love you are, there's almost nothing you can do (well there's some things you can do, but you can't do that all the time...and you can't really do it with pieces of art...). OK, we're veering into strange art-porn territory...
Anyway, suffice it to say that I really dig this guy's music. I love music that just gives you so much to work through and enjoy... there's just a lot of different levels and stories and references and ideas and all just so great musically, though I have almost no vocabulary whatsoever to speak about music. And he just has really great ideas and executes them so beautifully. Like on his last album, this song, The Temptation of Adam, which was totally funny but poignant and a little scary... it took me a while to figure out that the song was the opposite of the temptation of Eve and at the end of time rather than at the beginning (oh and get it? Marie... as in Marie Curie...it's science, people)... just such an refreshing break from your average boring love song. And on this new album, a song in which an archaeologist and the mummy she discovers fall in love... you can read about the origin of the song here. I don't know, it's just cool... I don't know how to describe it. Mock me if you must.
He can also write some damn heart-punching lyrics. This new one really gets me:
CHANGE OF TIME
I had a dream last night/I dreamt that I was swimming
And the stars up above/Directionless and drifting
Somewhere in the dark/Were the sirens and the thunder
And around me as I swam/The drifters who'd gone under
Time, love/Time, love/Time, love/It's only a change of time
I had a dream last night/And rusting far below me
Battered hulls and broken hardships/Leviathan and Lonely
I was thirsty so I drank/And though it was salt water
There was something 'bout the way/It tasted so familiar
The black clouds I'm hanging/This anchor I'm dragging
The sails of memory rip open in silence/We cut through the lowlands
All hands through the saltlands/The white caps of memory
Confusing and violent
I had a dream last night/And when I opened my eyes
Your shoulder blade, your spine/Were shorelines in the moon light
New worlds for the weary/New lands for the living
I could make it if I tried/I closed my eyes I kept on swimming
I just love this vision of swimming through the confusion and the hardships of this life with it's pitfalls laid out like places on a map, and the lover, close yet far, a destination to travel toward. And I love the theme, new worlds, and explorers, fits in well with what I am thinking about lately, reading The Lost City of Z which is just boggling my li'l ol' mind.
You can read some of his musings on the writing of this newest album here. He's a pretty smart dude.