Lyrics: More than Words (Part Four)

I’ve said many times before that I don’t hear lyrics very often. Sometimes a phrase stands out. Sometimes I sing it in my head using the wrong words. Either way, it’s hard to listen to Josh Ritter much without being struck by the creativity of the words. Here are two examples of Josh Ritter’s work that stood out to me on my way home from breakfast this morning.

“Kathleen” – Josh Ritter from Hello Starling

All the other girls here are stars; you are the Northern Lights
They try to shine in through your curtain; you’re too close and too bright
They try and they try but everything that they do
Is the ghost of a trace of a pale imitation of you
I’ll be the one to drive you back home Kathleen

This party was made with the night air and the chance that a smile
Will wind its way from your face to one of the boys in your line
You act like you’re hip to their tricks and you’re strong
But a virgin Wurlitzer heart never once had a song
I’ll be the one to drive you back home Kathleen

And I’ll have you back by break of day
I’m going your way anyway
And if you’d like to come along
I’ll be yours for a song

I know you are waiting and I know that it is not for me
But I’m here and I’m ready and I’ve saved you the passenger seat
I won’t be your last dance just your last goodnight
Every heart is a package tangled up in knots someone else tied
I’ll be the one to drive you back home Kathleen

So crawl up your trellis and quietly back into your room
And I’ll coast down the length of your drive by the light of the moon
And the next time I see you—a new kind of hello
Both our hearts have a secret only both of us know
’bout the night that I drove you back home Kathleen

“Good Man” – Josh Ritter from The Animal Years

These chords are old but we shake hands
Cause I believe that they’re the good guys
We can use all the help we can
So many minor chords outside
I fell in love with the sound
Oh I love to sing along with you
We got tunes we kicked around some
We got a bucket that the tunes go through

Babe, we both had dry spells, hard times; in bad lands
I’m a good man for ya, I’m a good man

Last night there was a horse in the road
I was twisting in the hairpin
My hands held on my mind let go
And back to you my heart went skipping
I found the inside of the road
Thought about the first time that I met you
All those glances that we stole
Sometimes, if you want them then you’ve got to

Babe, we both had dry spells, hard times; in bad lands
I’m a good man for ya, I’m a good man

They shot a Western south of here
They had him cornered in a canyon
And even his horse had disappeared
They said it got run down by a bad bad man
You’re not a good shot but I’m worse
And there’s so much where we ain’t been yet
So swing up on this little horse
The only thing we’ll hit is sunset

Babe, we both had dry spells, hard times; in bad lands
I’m a good man for ya, I’m a good man

“Rumors” – Josh Ritter from The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter

Serenade me with rocks, love
No lullabies through the locks love
I locked myself in with the band
But the music’s never loud enough

Decibels in the belfry
Hey what the hell if it helps me
I put a whip to the kick drum
But the music’s never loud enough

So you’re gonna have to show me
How that dance is done
The one where somebody leaves someone

My orchestra is gigantic
This thing could sink the Titanic
And the string section’s screaming
Like horses in a barn burning up

He plays pianos with fistfuls
Of broken Belvedere crystal
But he can’t seem to forget you
And the music’s never loud enough

So you’re gonna have to show me
How that dance is done
The one where somebody leaves someone

He’s impaling the front row
Fighting fires with arrows
And he’ll act like he forgot you
But the music’s never loud enough

So you’re gonna have to show me
How that dance is done
The one where somebody leaves someone

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