Happy Birthday Josh Ritter! 40 Lyrics

So, the most joyful of 40th Birthdays to Josh Ritter, the best singer/songwriter, lyrical genius, happiest smiling performer, political commentator, novelist, sound tracker of my life! Anyone who knows me knows of Josh, because I am such a fan of all his work, and have been for many years. Age 16 I was swept away by the lyrics on a random CD my first ever boyfriend gave me, it was a copy of 2002’s Hello Starling, and from the first song, Bright Smile, I was captivated. The music has gone in many wonderful directions since then, but I have to say that one little pretty song has always held a special place in my heart.

There’s been 5 albums since, I have had 11 or so years of listening to this wonderful wordsmith. I have never found any lyrics or music that spoke to, comforted me in difficult times and buoyed up my successes like the works of, or should I say the Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter. I think I have saw him in concert here in Ireland 10 times, and met him on a handful of happy occasions. My favourite time was the porch of the Empire Music Hall in 2009, during my first month or so of University. We bonded over Muriel Spark if I remember rightly.

My bestie Aisling and me bumped heads trying to hug Josh after one of my first times seeing him in Letterkenny, probably in 2007. My Mammy still feels a little ill when she listens to Kathleen because she was pregnant with Ellen when she listened to the album a lot and it calls up the morning sickness. Josh was there when relationships came and went and the words surrounded me on my best and worst days. Every workplace I was in or class I took I always converted a few to the Book of Ritter! To the point of being teased.

I have made so many memories, and met some good friends. This music has really enriched my days and I’m not doing it justice here.

As part of the celebrations, to let the birthday boy know how much all his songs are loved and appreciated, I bullied  requested that my friends and family help me out on a little lyrical project. Aisling gave me the idea of my 40 favourite lyrics, and I loved that idea, so these are at least 40 significant lyrics (I probably could go on forever.) And then to make it interesting, I assigned different people in my life some lyrics to hand write, and decorate as they saw fit. There are some works of art here. I think I might finally get an idea for a tattoo…

These lyrics all mean something to me, so take a wee minute to be inspired. 

In no particular order, I give you 40 lyrics from the man of the moment, Idaho legend Josh Ritter! Happy Birthday, Josh. Thank you for writing such rich and magical poetry to music. These songs have genuinely made a big difference in my life.

I think I will let the lyrics mostly speak for themselves. It’s only little snippets, but I strongly advise you chase the song up and give it a listen. Enjoy!



Beginning how it began, Bright Smile.

@thebadactress is now my username for most things… including Twitter. Where Josh follows me! Huzzah.
























I find more and more depth to this song every time. Considering ending the world just to stay in an underground bunker with your love…











A magical story of a ‘cursed’ Egyptian Mummy falling in love with an archaeologist.






















Beginning of relationship questions and wishes!























Like, what a compliment… and Ellen did a great job of the mini Aurora Borealis.




A beautiful story song that gets me right in the feels every time. Also cleverly inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s Annabel Lee. The first time I heard it I assumed it was an old cover of a classic song.










A definite ‘up there’ for my favourite song.








This song was a bit of a commentary on the Bush administration 10 years ago… but so apt today.











If you’re familiar with the next line, Jacob (7) drew a blackbird, a starling and winter being over by spring flowers. Awww.




Joy to you, Josh, wherever you are on your 40th Birthday. You have done the music world, and the world in general so much good by being here. Thank you for keeping me company through music, and offering so much inspiration through your words. Keep doing what you’re doing, and please come back to Ireland when you can.

Happy Birthday!

Fiona x

Huge THANK YOU to my artistic contributors who were put under some pressure! I am so impressed and I owe you :

A. Breslin

Dr. A. Duffy

L. Gilmour

C. Lafferty

R. Harley

Dr. M. Montague

E. Mc Callion

J. Mc Callion

P. Mc Callion

S. Rooney

M. Turner

C. Tracey

And an extra special thank you to A. Nelson who really made me want to get my friends involved cause of her calligraphy skills. Beautiful! 


Would you ever get a Tattoo?

This is in reply to Topic #207 in WordPress’ The Daily Post.

I always said that I wouldn’t get a tattoo. A variety of reasons, but I can’t imagine not getting bored with whatever I chose. However, if something meant enough to me that I would wish to make that sort of commitment to have it inked on to my skin, I might get one. I’m thinking a lyric, or perhaps a literary tattoo. Words. It would mostly definitely be Josh Ritter’s lyrics but I would have a very difficult time trying to decide which.


Every heart is a package tangled up in knots someone else tied. – Kathleen

Just pin your heartbeat up against my heartbeat, and you’ll see how well we rhyme – Bright Smile

So throw away those lamentations, we both know them all too well, if there’sĀ  a book of jubilations we’ll have to write it for ourselves – Lantern

Actually I don’t know if they would be tattoo choices but I love them! I kind of want the whole of ‘Lantern’ etched into my skin when I think about it šŸ™‚ I know that there is a wave of actual tattoos OF lanterns and ‘Hold it high for me’s’ thanks to Josh.

Also, on researching this: the world of Harry Potter tattoos has been opened up to me. Yes it may sound like a bad idea… but the originality is admirable and there is something wonderful about the more subltle ones. I’m not talking needling Daniel Radcliffe’s face onto your belly or anything.

This one makes me smile- via

I think I may have opened a can of worms here. I wonder if my family and friends would disown me if I got a subtle HP Tattoo? Hmm. Here’s a nice little collection.

So…what is YOUR take on this issue? Do you or would you ever get a tattoo? On the fence here!

Josh’s Book

Josh Ritter has written a book! Two of my favourite things merged together… To be perfectly honest, when I heard I wasn’t sure whether to be so happy and dying to read it, or to be super jealous. But I figured that he is 34 and I am 21 so I have plenty of time to catch up with him! The book is called ‘Bright’s Passage‘ (I really love the name – especially as the character is called Harry Bright) and you can download the first chapter here. I think I am more excited for the language and the actual writing rather than the story, but I am very excited for the yarn, too. It’s due for release in America, at least, in June. I can’t wait to get my hands on it, and then the next time I have the pleasure of going to see him I shall bring it with me with the hope of getting it signed and one of those smiles.

In a strange way I think I would actually call Josh my favourite writer already, I love his lyrics so much. It’s definitely his gorgeous lyrics that make him my favourite.

The very first Josh Ritter song I heard is called ‘Bright Smile’ (appropriate?) which I think was in 2005 -although the album was from 2003 -and I’ve actually never heard him sing it live. I’ll leave you with a lyric from that:

If she’s your only one, then she is also mine,

Just pin your heartbeat up against my heartbeat

And you’ll see how well we rhyme.

Actually here is the video too ! He has a lot more impressive and amazing songs and I’m not sure this is my favourite but I will always have a soft spot for it, enjoy!