Sunday, 28 February 2016

Songwriter Sunday: Why I Think Josh Ritter Is Great (and You Should Too)

By Marshall Jacklin

Josh Ritter is one of my favorite songwriters ever. His lyrics never waste a word, lulling you softly and unassuming into the worlds they create. He has the gift of being able to take settings, stories, and language often far removed from ordinary life, and infusing them with such piercing intensity that pure emotion shines through no matter what the situation is. 

Take for example, his stunning ode to love, The Curse, about a mummy's resurrection and subsequent falling in-and-out of love with his researcher, you know, the classic love story (also, the video is just beautiful):  

He watches the sea from a porthole in stowage
He can hear all she says and she sits by his bed
And one day his lips answered her in her own language
The days quickly pass he loves making her laugh
The first time he moves it's her hair that he touches
She asks, "are you cursed?" he says "I think that I'm cured"
Then he talks of the Nile and the girls in bulrushes

Or, the lonesome desert song Monster Ballads

Out on the desert now and I'm feeling lost
The bonnet wears a wire albatross
Monster ballads and the stations of the cross
Sighing just a little bit
Smiling just a little bit

Beyond the beauty of his words and music, Ritter is an outstanding live performer. I have seen him in concert twice, and both shows were high emotional points in my life. He exudes unadulterated joy for what he is doing, and an honest thankfulness for his audience; and man, does it rub off. Seeing him always reinvigorates my drive and passion, and reminds me of the vastness of love, that it is everywhere and ever important, and that one should give it freely and fully to whomever is willing to be touched by it. 

Though I don't think I would be able to choose an absolute favorite song of his, The Temptation of Adam has always stood out from the pack, as it brings to my mind and heart someone very dear to me. Is there anything better than a fantastic love song being done in a simple, honest way?

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