Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Josh Ritter>Thin Blue Flame

I've only just discovered Josh Ritter and I'm very glad to have found him. Not least because you can legally download a few of his tracks on his website - and I don't mean just the ones not worth listening to. I became interested in his music after reading an article describing him as a 'new Bob Dylan' - probably not a title Ritter would choose for himself and even though I can see why parallels are drawn (American, folk, guitar, poetic lyrics), whilst Ritter is good he's not that good.

However, his cracking song, 'Thin Blue Flame' (The Animal Years, 2006 and legally downloaded here) would grace any Dylan album. The lyrics are great - written as if a vision or dream. The protaganist takes a look at heaven and concepts of judgement found in religion. He concludes that the kind of heaven he's interested in, isn't the traditional one in the sky but the one on earth - the people, the land and the world around him. Ahhhh - and of course this is the very discovery Christians are suddenly awakening to. Tom Wright is busy educating evangelicals in the idea of a heavenly and earthly union - the breaking in of God's reign. Josh Ritter seems to have got there somehow, too.

'I wondered what it was I¹d been looking for up above
Heaven is so big there ain¹t no need to look up
So I stopped looking for royal cities in the air
Only a full house gonna have a prayer'

Friday, 4 April 2008

Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova>Falling Slowly

Thanks to my brother and sister in law, I was aware of how good this song was before it won an Oscar this year. They brought the DVD of the movie 'Once' with them for the Christmas holidays, and we watched it one evening in our lounge after the children had gone to bed. It's a touching film that reminded me a little of the brilliant 'Before Sunrise' and 'Lost in Translation'. Although I really liked this song when I heard it I did wonder how well it would stand up as a track on it's own without the movie. Well, in retrospect I think pretty well is the answer.

The lyrics seem to sum up the plot of the film, but if you take them out of that context they can have a different kind of meaning. During her Oscar speech (which was delayed after she had been cut off by the music before the commercial break - watch it here) Marketa Irglova said of the song: 'And this song was written from a perspective of hope, and hope at the end of the day connects us all, no matter how different we are.' A film with a tiny budget can win an award at the world's most prestigious film awards - the humble sometimes surprise the mighty! And as the song says:
'Take this sinking boat and point it home
We've still got time
Raise your hopeful voice you have a choice
You've made it now'

There is hope there for even the weakest and most insignificant of us who can point our 'sinking boats' in the direction of the One from whom all hope derives. Listen to the song and watch the movie, you won't regret it.