Monday, December 7, 2009

Songs Worth Reading: Josh Ritter's The Temptation of Adam

The modern practice of having artists perform songs written by professional song-writers has greatly affected the orginality and authenticity of song-writing. Lyrical quality has taken an even greater hit than the music -- as introspection and personal experience has been replaced by generic sentiment. Fortunately, there are a few musicians out there, such as Josh Ritter, who still take lyric-writing seriously.

Josh Ritter is a singer-songwriter from Idaho, who was influenced by artists like Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen, as well as writers such as Mark Twain. He has released 5 studio albums to date -- as well as several more EPs and live shows -- and a new album is slated for release in 2010. Here is one example of his remarkable lyrical ability.

The Temptation of Adam
"If this was a 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
But 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 singing "WWIII"
She smiled and we both knew that she 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 missle silo good as new
And I'd watch you with my thumb above the button

Then one night you found me in my army issue cot
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
Making love and then ransack the rations
I think of you leaving now in the avalanche cascades
My eyes get washed away in chain reactions

Oh Marie if you would stay we could stick pins in the map
Of all the places you thought that love would be found
But I would only need one pin to show where my love is at
In a top secret location 300 feet under the ground

We could hold each other close
We'd stay up every night
Look up into the dark like it's the night sky
Pretend this giant missile is a old oak tree instead
And I'd carve your name in hearts into the warhead
Oh Marie 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 grow a little nervous

So I think about the big one
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 button and I'm tempted

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