I wasn’t aware of Ritter’s emotional struggles in writing his upcoming album. He goes into detail, wearing his heart on his sleeve via his website.‚ Here’s an excerpt:
After my last record, Historical Conquests, a feeling came stealing over me that I had a reckoning in store. It was a new feeling, sinister in its emptiness, and it fell across me like a cold shadow. After almost a decade on the road, my life seemed as if it had become the one I always dreamed of; I was playing shows, living the charmed existence of a writer who has worked very hard and been very lucky. Still, the shadow was there, and I knew it had found me for a reason. I knew that I would have to wrestle it eventually. In the meantime though, in the words of Muriel Spark, I went on my way rejoicing. Then one day the shadow fell across me and stayed there. You know what that’s like. Anyone who loves to do something and then, one day, finds no joy in it, knows what that’s like. I suppose I could say I was burned out, but it wasn’t that; I wanted to write and I wanted to play, but nothing, nothing felt right to me anymore. Even more than that, nothing felt original. Suddenly, after all my effort, I had lost my confidence in the force and originality of my own work. I wrote and wrote. Nothing came and if it did, it was the same old stuff as before. My old songs came ringing back, silly, bereft to my ears of their original love or intent. I felt at times as if I was hovering just above myself, watching the mediocrity of my afternoon threatening to spread across months and years into a lost decade. And with nothing to show for myself would anyone ever believe how hard I had worked? The shadow hung and I held on, hoping for a single verse of something, anything at all that I could love.
I think we can all identify with his feelings, but I can’t imagine the pressure an artist or musician must feel when they know their livelihood is at stake. The pressure mounts, panic sets in, vision gets clouded, and the downward spiral begins. It’s probably like Tin Cup getting the yips.
Anyway, I’m glad he eventually snapped out of the funk, because it’s been two long years since Ritter’s last release, The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter, and I’m in Tom Sizemore sized withdrawal right now.‚ “The Curse” was posted on I Guess I’m Floating, and you’d think the song was about this back story. Nope. It’s about a mummy falling in love with an archaeologist.
So Runs The World Away is out next week.