Josh Ritter, whose latest album Sermon on the Rocks has been called by many his best ever song collection, recently initiated a call to action with his robust fan base by asking for photographs of their hometowns. His team received literally thousands of images, from all over the USA and the world. The song, which is a tender snapshot of ordinary, yet sparkling moments in our every day lives, begins thus in almost a whisper: I feel a change in the weather / I feel a change in me / The days are getting shorter and the birds begin to leave / Even me, yes, yes, y'all / Who has been so long alone / I'm headed home, headed home.
When the record was released in October, Ritter wrote a blog about the song on his website and had this to say: It's been said that one of the great tropes in fiction is the return home. Here we meet ghosts from our past; old friends, familiar architecture. I asked him how the idea for this video came to him. "When I've gone home I step off the airplane onto the tarmac in Spokane which is about two and a half hours from my house. You've been flying, and you've been in airports, and you've been in Brooklyn, and you've haven't smelled pine trees. And you set your foot down, the door opens, and the pine trees just rush in. I wanted that feeling for the song."
Ritter's songs are like novels, whole lives are lived sometimes in those beautiful lyrics, and if not a whole life, then a moment or moments that will reverberate forever like a faraway bell. "Homecoming" moves from a solo piano setting a butterscotch tone, to the voice of a young man backed by a band chugging in the background; to an acoustic middle eight and back to the glorious rhythm. Now it's a full story, inspired by a night lit up with young love and a box of wine. It's seamless, sweet, and real. "I've been really interested in listening to how people do the sections in songs. One song that I really love and think is a great well-written song is "Yoü And I" by Lady Gaga. Just listening to how she did the sections was so interesting and informational to me."
"I'm proud of my hometown (which is Moscow, Idaho, represented in the video also - photographed by Josh's mother). "I really wanted people who are proud of their place and proud of where they came from to be able to share that especially around this time of year when people are headed home." The video debuted on Ritter's Facebook page earlier this week and has attracted much attention and many comments from those who delightedly saw their own photos included. "I'm so gratified that people are seeing their own pictures and writing in - I think that's so cool!"
Royal City Band drummer Liam Hurley, was the videographer for the new video. "It's incredible," says Josh. "He made 'The Curse' video for me too, he's just really a remarkable videomaker." This is the only video I have ever seen that is completely crowd sourced - and includes the credits of all the contributors at the end, not to mention a thank you to them.
Idaho, the subject of one of Josh's most well loved songs, is a place he visits often to visit his family. His lyrical prose, I told him, makes me want to get on a plane and go out there and view its majesty. "Fly into Boise and drive north, you can't go wrong," he told me. "There's only one road."