A friend of mine recently confessed that she didn’t like Josh Ritter’s music because she found it bland. Now being a huge fan of the great man I was instantly disappointed but at the same time understanding for I too had been there. I had been a ‘non-believer’.
For years I just didn’t get the hype. Okay, there really isn’t any hype outside of Ireland – but in Ireland it’s there in spades – the man is gigantically popular and I couldn’t fathom why. I had heard the radio hits and could even sing along if pushed but I couldn’t smell the magic. And then, all of a sudden, one winter morning around the time my father died I found myself singing a song over and over again and it was only after some time that I was able to identify it as one of Josh’s. It was California, from the album Hello Starling. It dawned on me what an incredible song this was. And particularly it was the way he sings the line California doesn’t seem to think I’m ready yet. That’s when I finally understood. It made sense. Josh’s music is simple, pure and sincere. It’s not going to knock you on the head with clever tricks and funky bells – no hugely original sounds you’ve not heard before but it is more essentially the sound of man’s soul and this is a million miles from bland. It is in fact the total opposite. In the true tradition of the best song writers his song are effortlessly touching and deceptively simple. They are far too easily overlooked. They’re like a friend who you need to get to know to really love. Strangers will look at them and not see from the surface how unique and wonderfull they are. This is Josh Ritter’s music.
And as for packing a punch he does it all the time if you take off your boxing gloves and let him take a swipe. All the other girls here are stars you are the northern lights from Kathleen. Who wouldn’t want somebody to write that about them?
birds beneath my window dustying their wings upon the lawn
Hear ’em in the morning light a last amen to a migratory song
they’re never looking round for me—their eyes are on the sky or the ground below
I’d rather be the one who loves than to be loved and never even know
Snow is Gone (from Hello Starling)
Girl in the War from the album The Animal Years is a song that gets better and better with each listening. A finer written anti-war song I have never heard. And he gives the mp3 away for free – got to love that.
I got a girl in the war Paul her eyes are like champagne They sparkle bubble over and in the morning all you got is rain
Do open windows keep the rain away?Do open eyes keep the ghosts at bay? I thought an open door would bring you in I guess I’m going to have to guess again
From Open Doors
I’ve since seen him live twice – both times were stunning. I am fan for life and wonder now why it took me so long. Some times I guess you just need to be ready for it.