Josh Ritter

I Had a Dream Last Night

Josh Ritter - "Change of Time" (Live, Solo Acoustic) at Fingerprints (Long Beach, California) from Doug Rice on Vimeo.

Change of Time
by Josh Ritter, from So Runs the World Away

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 moonlight
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


Real Red Blood

"In high school, you know, there really wasn't that much around in terms of music. I mean , grunge was kind of happening, but me and none of my friends were old enough to go...We had kind of a top 40 station. But Nashville Skyline -- my parents owned it. I knew Dylan's name, but I dusted that record off and put I it on because of Johnnie Cash. It took a long time for the rest of that josh_ritter2record to sink in, but 'Girl from the North Country' hit me hard. I really think it was like somebody discovering punk for the first time.

"That was my moment when I realized that music was something that anybody could do. You know, here it is -- it's imperfections and it's excitement and the fact that it's real red blood making this record. And really singing. It sounded like they'd been up all night. You could almost tell that they needed to shave.

"Without that song, I might not have ever discovered it. I mean, it was just such a huge moment. I really think it was like seeing the person you want to marry. Either that day or the day after, I went down to Kmart and I got a guitar."

-- Josh Ritter discussing the influence of Bob Dylan on his musical career (Studio 360, 11.23.07)

The Temptation of Adam

by Josh Ritter, from The Historical Conquests

If this was the Cold War we could keep each other warm
I said on the first occasion that I met Marie
We were crawling through the hatch that was the missile silo door
And I don't think that she really thought that much of me

I never had to learn to love her like I learned to love the Bomb
She just came along and started to ignore me
As we waited for the Big One
I started singing her my songs
And I think she started feeling something for me

We passed the time with crosswords that she thought to bring inside
What five letters spell "apocalypse" she asked me
I won her over saying "W.W.I.I.I."
We smiled and we both knew that she'd misjudged me

Oh Marie it was so easy to fall in love with you
It felt almost like a home of sorts or something
And you would keep the warhead missile silo good as new
And I watched you with my thumb above the button

Then one night you found me in my army issue cot
And you told me of your flash of inspiration
You said fusion was the broken heart that's lonely's only thought
And all night long you drove me wild with your equations

Oh Marie do you remember all the time we used to take
We'd make our love and then ransack the rations
I think about you leaving now and the avalanche cascades
And my eyes get washed away in chain reactions

Oh Marie if you would stay then we could stick pins in the map
Of all the places where you thought that love would be found
But I would only need one pin to show where my love's at
In a top secret location three hundred feet under the ground

We could hold each other close and stay up every night
Looking up into the dark like it's the night sky
And pretend this giant missile is an old oak tree instead
And carve our name in hearts into the warhead

Oh Marie there's something tells me things just won't work out above
That our love would live a half-life on the surface
So at night while you are sleeping
I hold you closer just because
As our time grows short I get a little nervous

So I think about the Big One, W.W.I.I.I.
Would we ever really care the world had ended
You could hold me here forever like you're holding me tonight
I think about that great big red button and I'm tempted

See also: "The Bright Side of the World's Annihilation," by Stephen Thompson, NPR, Sep. 4, 2011