I feel like I’ve had this conversation a few times lately. I’m just bored. I’ve been listening to the same couple of albums for months now. I’ve felt like I’ve been waiting for something new/something different to get me excited about music again… I think I’ve been mistaken
You don’t always need ground breaking, you don’t always need unprecedented… What I needed was simple songs steeped in history. What I needed was a moment of quiet joy… What I needed was Josh Ritter.
A couple of weeks back I headed down to Austin for my first show of the new year, Josh Ritter and Gregory Alan Isakov. I’d seen Ritter twice before and he’s always incredible but I wasn’t prepared for the way I felt during that show. Gregory Alan Isakov opened the show and after wanting to see him live for years, he did not disappoint. He closed his set with the unreleased song Liars and it nearly had me in tears, its such an affecting and stirring song. With only himself, a cellist and a violinist on stage he filled the Moody theater with sound and emotion and at that the audience fell silent, quite the fete.
Next up was Josh Ritter, I don’t know how he does it but every time you see him he makes his songs sound new. His background in folklore (studying American History through narrative folk music at Oberlin College before moving to Scotland to study at the school of Scottish folk stories) make him quite the prolific story-teller. Whether its a story about a mummy coming back to life and falling in love with the archeologist who freed him from his tomb, or the story of an explorer and his ship (the Annabel Lee) as they set off in search of another new world, each story is weaved with glistening prose and witty wordplay.
Now these songs and stories are wonderful but what really makes Ritter stand out in a sea of singer song writers is his live show. I’m not sure how he does it but Ritter infuses so much joy into each and every set and it never feels forced or disingenuous. His music and show to me is like a deep breath, it’s like the best night’s sleep you’ve ever had. It’s restorative, it’s peaceful, it’s invigorating, it’s a refuge. As I sat through the show I was reminded why I love music so much and I realized how glad I was to be alive in a world where Ritter (and countless others) write these songs.
This got me thinking (and mixtaping) so I compiled a list of songs that make me glad to be alive. These songs have quelled the boredom I felt in music. These songs remind me of the power of music and why my life is made infinitely more joyful through it.
((for the record, this playlist was made in an afternoon and using only songs I could find on spotify, so there are some huge omissions, but this is what I have for now))