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Springsteen fall short because they don’t take into account that those guys have been doing it for so long and I’ve just been doing this for ten years, not forty or fifty so really comparisons don’t work that way.” But behind the modesty, Ritter is undoubtedly proud of making the list. “To be mentioned in the same sentence of Dylan is amazing... He’s the first person that really made me realise that I could do this. He changed my life”, he says. While that may be true, it can’t be said that Ritter ever was or will be in the same league of Dylan as a persona. While Dylan blurred the line between rock n’ roll and folk music, Ritter is a folk artist despite his refusal to be pigeon-holed to one genre. When asked if he thinks folk has changed in the past ten years he impressively avoids giving a direct answer explaining: “I never really knew what folk music really was so I feel like it’d be hard to say that it has... I really don’t keep tabs on acoustic genres and don’t really listen to a lot of strictly acoustic music.” But one thing he does have in common with the ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’ legend is the erratic and unpredictable direction he can take on a record. “Eclecticism is phenomenal,” he says with unbridled eagerness and passion. “I mean it far outweighs the alternative which is canonisation and narrowing.” He puts this into context before getting a chance to ask for an explanation, “I got asked to judge a song contest the other day and I just can’t imagine a worse thing to do.” Refreshingly honest, it’s hard to find fault with his character. The son of two neuroscientists, it might seem like a no-brainer that any offspring would inevitably be scientifically inclined when it came to choosing a career. But it seems that Ritter preferred to use the right, more creative side of his noggin and head down (pun intended) the artistic route and earned a degree in American History through Narrative Folk Music. The motivation behind the decision to study such a particular subject stemmed from his desire to get beyond the obvious when it comes to such a topic, most notably Woody Guthrie. Ritter’s logic is the fact that there are musicians besides Guthrie who exemplify a period in American History. “It’s more about social movements through music,” he says. “As soon as we have an experience we have a need to talk about that experience with other people, so who rises to fulfil those needs for those songs of experience?” He goes on to rationally decipher that, “Whether it’s the labourer songs or cowboy songs singing about trains there’s a reason why that stuff gets done and there’s a lot of history that’s really fascinating and fun to look at behind those songs and why it was important to people.” He doesn’t’ stop there. “It also reminds you all the time that music is not about selling records, it’s not about making money at all.”

Josh Ritter (1999) Ritter’s self-released debut. KEY TRACK: Letter from Omaha

Golden Age of Radio (2000) The album that got him noticed. KEY TRACK: Me & Jiggs

Hello Starling (2003) Airy and accomplished.

KEY TRACK: Snow is Gone

The Animal Years (2006) His breakthrough album. KEY TRACK: Girl in the War

The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter (2007) A more mature and melodic Ritter KEY TRACK: Mind’s Eye

So Runs the World Away (2010) Breathtaking. KEY TRACK: The Curse


Profile for Aoife  O' Connor


Prototype folk music magazine


Prototype folk music magazine