April 29, 2010

My favorite song on the new Josh Ritter album: “Lantern”


This song made me cry in the car on the drive up to our listening party, the first time I’d really sat down and listened:

STREAM: Lantern – Josh Ritter

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Be the light in my lantern, be the light
I need light in my lantern, light in my lantern tonight

It’s a hungry world out there, even the wind will take a bite
I can feel the world circling, sniffing round me in the night
and the lost sheep grow teeth
forsake the lambs and lie with the lions

Where the living is desperate, precarious and mean
and getting by is so hard that even the rocks are picked clean
and the bones of small contention
are the only food the hungry find

I need light in my lantern, light for my lantern tonight

Where the thistles eat the thorns and the roses have no chance
and it ain’t no wonder that the babies come out crying in advance
and the children look for shelter
in the hollow of some lonesome cheek

And the sky’s so cold and clear, stars might stick you where you stand
and you’re only glad it’s dark cuz you might see the Master’s hand
and you might cast around forever
and never find the peace you seek

I need light in my lantern, light for my lantern tonight

For every cry in the night, somebody says, “Have faith!”
“Be content inside your questions,”
“Minotaurs inside the maze.”
Tell me what’s the point of light
that you have to strike a match to find?

So throw away those Lamentations, we both know them all too well
If there’s a Book of Jubilations we’ll have to write it for ourselves
So come and lie beside me darling
let’s write it while we still got time

So if you got a light (hold it high for me)
I need it bad tonight (hold it high for me)
cause I’m face to face (hold it high for me)
in a lonesome place (hold it high for me)
With all the hurt that I’ve done (hold it high for me)
that can’t be undone (hold it high for me)
light and guide me though (hold it high for me)
I’ll do the same for you (hold it high for me)

I’ll hold it high for you, cuz I know you’ve got
I’ll hold it high for you, your own Valley to walk
I’ll hold it high for you, though it’s dark as death
I’ll hold it high for you, and then gets darker yet
I’ll hold it high for you, though your path is blocked
I’ll hold it high for you, through the thieves and the rocks
I’ll hold it high for you, keep you safe from harm
Hold it high for you ’til you’re back in my arms

telluride-poster-09After hearing the new record, I’ve decided to go see Josh at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival in June (with Mumford and Sons, Dave Rawlings, Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes, among others).


[PS – “The Curse” is also an astounding song; I wrote some thoughts here. I’m laid out by it. Listen here.]

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  • That song slays me, too. So hopeful, somehow.

    Mary — April 29, 2010 @ 12:55 pm

  • I am totally with you on this one. It’s been on heavy repeat ever since I first heard it.



    ekko — April 29, 2010 @ 1:02 pm

  • I saw him do “The Curse” live last fall, amazing. He did it with the stage completely dark, very cool.

    Mike — April 29, 2010 @ 1:04 pm

  • Lantern is definitely a standout on this amazing album. Looking forward to growing more attached to this album. So many great songs.

    shaun — April 29, 2010 @ 1:58 pm

  • Best line in the best song:

    So throw away those Lamentations, we both know them all too well / If there’s a Book of Jubilations we’ll have to write it for ourselves

    Book of Jubilations, indeed.

    EliMcQ — April 29, 2010 @ 4:57 pm

  • Been streaming the album today and can’t wait to get everything that it has to offer over time. This song is probably true love.

    Megan — April 29, 2010 @ 7:41 pm

  • EliMcQ – that was the exact line that did it for me. I had read Josh’s blog called Book of Jubilations, and the title page of the blog has “(If there’s a) Book of Jubilations (we’ll have to write it for ourselves)” at the top, but I wasn’t 100% sure what it was from. So I was driving along up I-25, beautiful twilight, and I was already totally rapt over the lyrics thus far and when he sang the line, “Throw away those Lamentations, we both know them all too well…” my brain instantly jumped to that bit of recall because it rhymed and I thought it might be coming, but before I had time to fully process it, he lays right into, “If there’s a Book of Jubilations, we’ll have to write it for ourselves…” and it was all so joyous and *perfect* in that moment, the way it all fell together, it’s hard to explain. Then he kept going with, “So come and lie beside me darling, and let’s write it while we still got time.” And I blinked back those happy great tears when you fall in love with a song for the first time.

    I am interviewing him in Telluride this summer, and I am thrilled. No one writes songs like him.

    browneheather — April 29, 2010 @ 9:55 pm

  • I could not be more jealous of your plans to go to Telluride. Josh and the band are playing with Ben Sollee at one of the NightGrass shows (separate tickets required, I think) on Thursday night, which I’m pretty sure will be mindblowing. You should check it out. Also, Sarah Jarosz, an amazing young mandolinist/multi-instrumentalist, is playing a Friday night show with Mumford & Sons. I would kill to be at Telluride. Please take lots of pics/videos and report back!

    Allie — April 30, 2010 @ 9:59 am

  • This is a good song but my favorite by far is “Another New World”. Josh Ritter is arguably the best American songwriter of our time. I adore this album, it has exceeded every possible expectation I had.

    Tricia — April 30, 2010 @ 6:15 pm

  • Ritter is one of the bests, thanks for this post, he deserves all the glory. My favourite song from Josh? Mmm…”Bright smile”.
    Cheers from Barcelona!

    otto — May 1, 2010 @ 8:59 am

  • I agree with everything you guys are saying, and his songwriting has grown even more on this album.

    Allie – I am super excited about Telluride and looking forward to FINALLY interviewing Josh! He’s one of my favorite musicians that I have never somehow worked it out to interview, so now I am super excited. Yay!

    browneheather — May 1, 2010 @ 9:31 am

  • Here an Italian fan! Waiting the interview!
    Ciao from Milano


    vitarilassata — May 1, 2010 @ 11:39 am

  • I love this song, but The Curse is definitely my favorite on the album. It is this album’s “Temptation of Adam”.

    Kurt C — May 7, 2010 @ 12:11 pm

  • Yes, loving this song with everyone else. Definitely going to have to get this record. Thanks, HB! And scream loud for Mumford & Sons on behalf of the Wang!

    Bart Wang — May 7, 2010 @ 12:42 pm

  • i can see bruce springsteen covering this song. i like it too. a beautiful message of hope. hope is whats lacking in the world right now. congrats to josh ritter
    joe costanzo – musician/ writer waiting to explode

    Joe Costanzo — May 19, 2010 @ 8:03 am

  • Did you see the video for “the Curse”? I like it quite a bit and thought you might too.

    Enjoy your travels.

    Adrian — June 7, 2010 @ 5:19 am

  • holy crap. i never thought puppets would make me cry. something in the hard glitter in his eye, wow. and the waltzing scene made me lose it. i am crying over puppets.

    thanks. i’d been meaning to watch that.

    browneheather — June 8, 2010 @ 12:03 am

  • The whole album is as close to perfect as possible!

    Elissa — June 23, 2010 @ 1:29 pm

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

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