Musicians@Google: Josh Ritter

Uploaded by AtGoogleTalks on 14.05.2010

>> Thank You all for coming to today's very special Musicians@Google event.
We have the wonderful Josh Ritter
who's releasing his new album "So Runs the World Away".
[audience applauding]
Ah, we're very lucky that Josh is actually here.
Josh managed to get into Dublin this morning at 9 o'clock was it?
>>Josh: Yes, yeah
>> He's probably extremely jetlagged
but is being extremely kind to come in and play for us all.
So Josh before you play a few tracks from the new album,
ah, we're just going to have a quick chat with you.
>>Josh: Sure, yeah
>> Dave, your manager,
was saying you actually have a bit of history kind of around this area.
Did you write part of "Hello Starling" or something?
Josh: Yeah, I wrote a lot of songs here and in "Rings End", yeah.
>> Really?
>>Josh: Jetlag is amazing for that.
It takes, you know,
I would wake up at 5 in the morning in Dave's house where he was living,
and it was just filled with CD cases.
And I would wake up and Metallica would be looking at me in the face,
and I would get up and write songs.
>> So, we'll just have a quick chat about the new album.
>>Josh: Sure
>> So on your website you said that this was by far the most difficult album for you to make.
In what way was it like so tough to make?
>>Josh: Well, I don't really believe in tortured art.
You know I think that most of the time if you're happy,
you make good stuff that can, you know,
you know, just because you're happy doesn't mean you write happy songs,
but if you're content,
you know, things will come out one way,
and if you're kind of battering your head against a wall things will come out another, you know?
Sometimes the--, you know,
any good work is,
you do an enormous amount of work just to get to the spot
where it starts to feel a little bit more effortless, you know.
And that anything that's kind of done,
that's done elegantly that had a lot of work that went into it;
I feel that's something that I learned with this record.
And I don't know, it's probably something you guys
do quite a bit of yourself, you know.
>> Hmmm.
That tumbleweed [laughs].
You mention that you had this kind of creative blockage for awhile and that "The Curse";
the third song on the album,
seems to have been the thing that got the creative juices flowing again.
>>Josh: Yeah. Yeah. Well I grew up in Idaho in a place pretty far out of town,
and I moved to New York and I wasn't prepared for living in a city with so many dump trucks.
Um, they go by the window like a parade,
ah, maybe 30 a night I feel like.
And I was used to hearing other sorts of sounds outside,
so I would wake up in the night with these dump trucks going by
and I'd felt like I had writer's block forever.
I never believed in anything like writer's block,
I never thought it was a thing,
um, I sort of scoffed at it, and then I got it.
And nothing I wrote felt right,
and everything was feeling,
I felt terrible and then one night, you know,
30 dump trucks went by and I woke up and I had this idea for this story about a mummy
who comes to New York and he's, you know,
he falls in love with an archeologist and [laughter from audience]
>> So it all flowed from there then?
>>Josh: [laughing] yeah, yeah it was obvious.
[audience laughing]
>> There's a lot of sort of,
I get a sense of loneliness or something from the album.
A lot of the characters in songs like "Southern Pacifica",
they're staring out into an abyss kind of separated from it.
Is that a reflection of the sort of writer's block that you were having at the time,
either directly or indirectly?
>>Josh: Well, I think that once I got that song,
once I got "The Curse", and I wrote it in the bathroom ,
I was sitting on the edge of the tub,
writing really quietly,
but then after that I realized what I really liked about a lot of songs,
and a lot about the stuff that I was reading,
a lot of books that I was reading was that it always felt like everything was on the precipice
and that maybe bad things were about to start happening,
but they hadn't quite happened yet but they were about, you know,
and that's what I like in good fiction and other things,
you know, the chance that something,
the tenseness [laughs]
>> You mean, you got married roughly this time last year
>>Josh: Yeah, yeah
>> Do you think, thank you Wikipedia [laughs],
Do you think that sort of being in the stable and strong relationship
like that gave you the confidence or the foundation to explore those things of like,
unease and loneliness.
Do you think you would have been able to explore that, say if you had been
on your own in the world or something?
>>Josh: I think that um,
I'm just speaking for myself and you know,
but I do think that getting married has made me smarter, you know.
[Laughter from audience]
>>Josh: I know that's not saying that, you know,
there was no where to go but up there,
but uh,
but there was uh,
yeah, you can concentrate on other things you know.
>> This album, to me like kind of sounds,
it's a big sonic leap forward, I think.
It's like, I know Peter Murphy in "Hot Press" this week describes it as being really like
Mercury Rev's deserter's songs.
It's a really good comparison but so much for that,
this is the same producer for the second album in a row,
does that allow you to kind of get your vision across of what you want,
like more easily or ...
>>Josh: Yeah, you know, for one thing,
just being with the same group of people for such a long time.
I've played with people in my band,
some of them for over a decade.
From the time I was in the middle of college.
And those common experiences are much more important
than being able to talk in a musical theory language.
You know, you can describe a chord progression,
but if you have a common experience that surrounds it,
maybe you drove 15 hours listening to one record,
because it was stuck in the van,
everybody knows that such and such a sound,
and you can describe that and say that you want that,
then we know what we're going for, rather than, you know.
So this is the first time I have every worked with the same producer twice.
It's an amazing experience.
I love it.
I'd rather play with my friends than anybody else.
>> Absolutely.
Well, would you be kind enough to play us a few tracks?
>>Josh: Sure, yeah, yeah.
>> Thank you very much. Josh Ritter everybody
[audience applauding]
>>Josh: All right
[guitar lead in to "Change of Time"]
♪ I had a dream last night
♪ I dreamt that I was swimming, and stars up above
♪ Directionless and drifting, and somewhere in the dark
♪ Where the sirens and the thunder
♪ And around me as I swam,
♪ the drifters who'd gone under
♪ Time, love
♪ Time, love
♪ Time, love
♪ Time, love
♪ Time, love
♪ Time, love
♪ It's only a change of time
♪ [guitar playing]
♪ I had a dream last night
♪ Rusting far below me, battered hulls and broken hardships
♪ Leviathan and lonely I was thirsty so I drank,
♪ although it was salt water
♪ There was something about the way,
♪ it tasted so familiar
♪ Time, love
♪ Time, love
♪ Time, love
♪ [guitar playing]
♪ Time, love
♪ Time,
♪ Time, love
♪ It's only a change of time
♪ [guitar playing]
♪ The black clouds I'm hanging
♪ This anchor I'm dragging
♪ Sails of memory rip open in silence
♪ We cut through the low-lands
♪ Our hands though the soft lands
♪ The white caps a memory, confusing and violent
♪ [guitar playing]
♪ I had a dream last night
♪ 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
♪ Time, love
♪ Time, love
♪ Time, love
♪ [guitar playing]
♪ Time, love
♪ Time
♪ Time, love
♪ It's only a change
♪ Rough seas they carry me wherever I go
♪ Rough seas
♪ They carry me wherever I go
♪ [guitar playing]
[audience applauding]
>>Josh: Thank You.
[audience applauding]
Thanks a lot.
I just,
I was supposed to be here earlier this week but,
And then I didn't want to go.
I sort of thought a few other people should go first.
[audience laughing]
And then I got on the plane and spent most of the time last night
kind of helping the pilot look out for...
And it wasn't a really nice plane either.
It was not the type of plane you'd like to go down in.
[audience laughing]
[guitar strumming]
This is a song about a train
[audience laughing]
[guitar lead in to "Southern Pacifica"]
♪ Southern Pacific
♪ Red, white and blue
♪ Where are we running to?
♪ [guitar playing]
♪ Over the wide plains
♪ Over the wide plains
♪ Take me to someplace new
♪ [guitar playing]
♪ Remember me to Roxy Anne
♪ You know she's still lovely
♪ Tell her I was on the move
♪ Last time you saw me
♪ That you only saw the back of my head
♪ [guitar playing]
♪ And run through the timbers
♪ And I'll breathe the dust of
♪ Cosmos and wild rose bud
♪ [guitar playing]
♪ And run through the unknowns
♪ In the phosphorous white glow
♪ [guitar playing]
♪ of sabre-tooth bones in the dusk
♪ [guitar playing]
♪ Remember me to Roxy Anne
♪ You know she's still lovely
♪ Tell her I was on the move
♪ Last time you saw me
♪ That you only saw the back of my head
♪ [guitar playing]
♪ Remember me to Roxy Anne
♪ You know she's still lovely
♪ Tell her I was barely there
♪ The last time you saw me
♪ That you only saw the back of my head
♪ [guitar playing]
♪ Southern Pacific
♪ Take me to meet
♪ Whatever is hunting for me.
[audience applauding]
>>Josh: Thank You.
[audience applauding]
[guitar strumming]
>>Josh: This is going all right, it's not too awkward is it?
[audience laughing]
[guitar strumming]
You all have key cards,
so you can all get out if you want [laughter]
I'm here
[guitar strumming]
[guitar lead in to "Moon River"]
♪ Moon river, wider than a mile
♪ I'm crossing you in style someday
♪ You dream maker,
♪ you heart breaker
♪ Wherever you're going,
♪ I'm going your way
♪ Two drifters off to see the world
♪ There's such a lot of world to see
♪ We're both looking for the rainbow's end waiting around the bend
♪ My huckleberry friend,
♪ moon river and me
♪ [guitar playing]
>>Josh: I didn't write this [audience laughter]
♪ [guitar playing]
♪ Two drifters off to see the world
♪ There's such a lot of world to see
♪ We're both looking for
♪ the rainbow's end waiting around the bend
♪ My huckleberry friend, moon river and me
♪ [guitar playing]
[audience applauding]
>>Josh: Thank You.
[audience applauding]
[guitar lead in to "Lark"]
♪ The golden ratio the shell
♪ The stairs ascending round themselves
♪ The trees rustle as if to kneel and listen
♪ To the heartbeat of a lark or the lark in my heartbeat
♪ The oxygen in priestly green
♪ The answers dressed in labyrinthine
♪ The telescopes atop the mountains of ecstatic vision listening
♪ To the heartbeat of a lark or the lark in my heartbeat
♪ Hey,
♪ hey,
♪ hey,
♪ hey,
♪ I am assured, yes
♪ I am assured yes
♪ I am assured that peace will come to me
♪ A peace that can yes surpass the speed yes
♪ Of my understanding and my need
♪ [guitar playing]
♪ The meteoric warp and went
♪ In counterbalancing the sparks ever ascending
♪ The arrow time shoots forward though it moves through repetition
♪ To the heartbeat of a lark or the lark in my heartbeat
♪ Hey,
♪ hey,
♪ hey,
♪ hey
♪ What is it that drives the driven snow now?
♪ Upon whose temples with I rest my weary hopes now?
♪ The rain distills down steeples fills the ears of lonely church mice
♪ with the heartbeat of a lark or the lark in my heartbeat
♪ Hey,
♪ hey,
♪ hey,
♪ hey
♪ I am assured yes
♪ I am assured yes
♪ I am assured that peace will come to me
♪ A peace that can yes
♪ surpass the speed yes
♪ Of my understanding and my need
♪ [guitar playing]
[audience applauding]
Thank You.
[audience applauding]
Thanks a lot.
[guitar strumming]
Is it all good?
♪ [guitar lead in to "Locks "]
♪ There was a time I had the right key
♪ Rolled the tumbler slid the bolt on every wandering eye I caught
♪ [guitar playing]
♪ But now something has changed this is all wrong
♪ I'm out here in the cold with a wet face a-rattling your locks
♪ [guitar playing]
♪ There ain't nothing new about the world
♪ That I ain't learned from just standing here in this spot
♪ [guitar playing]
♪ There ain't nothing new about the world
♪ That I ain't learned from just a-watching you go by
♪ [guitar playing]
♪ I tell myself people are cold and strangers pass
♪ Separate themselves from love by building walls a hundred thousand miles high
♪ [guitar playing]
♪ Frostbite and heartsickness
♪ Ain't neither one of them so bad if you can understand the reason why
♪ [guitar playing]
♪ Black hole, black hole
♪ are your eyes as empty as they look?
♪ [guitar playing]
♪ Black hole, black hole,
♪ are your two eyes as empty as they look?
♪ [guitar playing]
♪ All along I thought I was giving you my love but you were just stealing it
♪ Now I want every single thing that you took
♪ [guitar playing]
♪ I had a dream,
♪ a dream where I was dying
♪ But it wasn't a nightmare I was peaceful as I fell
♪ [guitar playing]
And if I was falling into heaven
Heaven must be hotter than the Bible tells
♪ [guitar playing]
I woke up sorry I was living
Rather than rattling your locks I'd rather spend another night in hell
In hell,
in hell,
in hell
♪ [guitar playing]
[audience applauding]
>>Josh: Thank you very much.
[audience applauding]
Thank you for listening.
If I could just play one more,
this is...
Thank you very much for having me here,
this is awesome.
[guitar strumming]
[audience applauding]
This is a,
I noticed that a lot of the really good folk songs are from Ireland,
where you know,
terrible things happen,
and then the song is over, you know.
There's no moral.
[audience laughing]
One of the things I noticed in looking at a lot of folk songs is that
they come over to America and then they always tag a moral at the end.
Except for the few that are out there that don't get touched.
So I always liked that.
'Cuz you know there's a dog and the dog is running and the guy,
like hits the ball into the dogs mouth and the dog falls down and dies
and the island explodes in flames and then the song is over.
[audience laughing]
Like a Cameron movie.
This is a song,
uh, this is called "The Curse"
[guitar lead in to "The Curse"]
♪ He opens his eyes, falls in love at first sight with the girl
♪ In the doorway what beautiful lines and how full of life
♪ After thousands of years what a face to wake up to
♪ He holds back a sigh she touches his arm
♪ She dusts off the bed where 'til now he's been sleeping
♪ And under miles of stone, the dried fig of his heart
♪ Under scarab and bone starts back to it's beating
♪ [guitar playing]
♪ She carries him home in a beautiful boat
♪ He watches the sea from a porthole in stowage
♪ He can hear all she says as she sits by his bed
♪ And one day his lips answer her in her own language
♪ The days quickly pass he loves making her laugh
♪ The first time he moves it's her hair that he touches
♪ She asks, "Are you cursed?"
♪ He says, "I think that I'm cured"
♪ Then he talks of the Nile and the girls in bulrushes
♪ [guitar playing]
♪ In New York he is laid in a glass covered case
♪ He pretends he is dead people crowd round to see him
♪ But each night she comes round and the two wander down
♪ The halls of the tomb that she calls a museum
♪ Often he stops to rest but then less and less
♪ Then it's her that looks tired staying up asking questions
♪ He learns how to read from the papers that she
♪ Is writing about him and he makes corrections
♪ It's his face on her book more and more come to look families from Iowa,
♪ Upper West Siders then one day it's too much
♪ he decides to get up and as chaos ensues
♪ he walks outside to find her she's using a cane,
♪ And her face looks too pale
♪ But she's happy to see him
♪ As they walk he supports her She asks "Are you cursed?"
♪ But his answer is obscured
♪ In a sandstorm of flashbulbs Rowdy reporters
♪ [guitar playing and humming]
♪ Such re-animation
♪ Two tour the nation
♪ He gets out of limos
♪ He meets other women
♪ He speaks of her fondly
♪ Their nights in the museum
♪ It's just one more rag now he's dragging behind him
♪ She stops going out
♪ She just lies there in bed
♪ In hotels in whatever towns they are speaking
♪ Then her face starts to set
♪ And her hands start to fold
♪ Then one day the dried fig of her heart stops its beating
♪ [guitar playing]
♪ Long ago on the ship
♪ She asked why pyramids
♪ He said "Think of them as an immense invitation."
♪ She asked "Are you cursed?"
♪ He says "I think that I'm cured."
♪ Then he kissed her and hoped
♪ That she'd forget that question
♪ [guitar playing]
[audience cheering and applauding]
Thank you very much.
Thanks for having me here, this is cool. Thank you very much.
[audience cheering and applauding]
>> Sorry guys, just before everyone goes,
Josh's new album, the wonderful songs that you've heard this morning;
"So Runs the World Today" is out today on iTunes and in all good record shops.
Josh is playing the new Grand Canal Theatre next Tuesday I think
but if you don't have a ticket, tough, 'cuz it's sold out.
however tickets have gone on sale I think this morning
for Josh's gig in the Ivy Gardens on July 18th,
so go to.
Just a couple of quick thank you's I just wanted to thank the facilities guys as always
and the admins who help us out.
I want to uh,
I just want to make a very quick point of saying
that the reason that these events have been so successful
is done mainly to two guys,
Mark and Aidan.
I don't think anyone really realizes just how good they are at their jobs.
It's been absolutely fantastic.
They've been the single reason why this thing has been so successful.
So I want to give them a special round of applause.
[audience applauding]
And also thanks to Tim on sound here today.
He's done such a great job.
And most big thanks to you, Mr. Josh Ritter.
Thank you very much.
[audience applauding]