The Historical Conquests
(2007 / Sony Victor / Independent Records)
Produced by Sam Kassirer. Recorded at The Great North Sound Society.
All tracks engineered by Brandon Eggelston except for Edge of the World, Wait for Love, and Moons engineered by Sam.
Still Beating and Adam engineered by Brandon and Sam.
Additional recording by Kris Smith at Q Division.
Mixed by Jacquire King at the LBT, except Wait for Love and Adam which were mixed by Sam, Brandon, and Jacquire; and Edge of the World, which was mixed by Sam and Jacquire.
Mastered by Jeff Lipton and Jessica Thompson at Peerless.
Zack Hickman double bass, electric bass, acoustic and electric guitar, baritone guitar, trombone, lap steel, background vocals
Liam Hurley drums and percussion
Sam Kassirer electric and acoustic pianos, organs, guitar, vibraphone, percussion
Josh Ritter vocals and guitars
With the Great North Sound Society Orchestra:
Tony Barba tenor sax, clarinet
Ariane Barbanell exclamations
Matt Douglas alto sax, baritone sax, bass clarinet, background vocals
Bill Fagley talking, vocals
Kirk Knuffke trumpet, flugelhorn
Joelle Lurie opera
Doug Rice background vocals, the runner
Sarah Whitney violins
Strings written and arranged by Sam Kassirer.
Horns arranged by Sam Kassirer and Zack Hickman.
All songs written by Josh Ritter c/p Rural Songs (ASCAP)
To the Dogs or Whoever Deep in the belly of a whale I found her Down with the deep blue jail around her Running her hands through the ribs of the dark Florence and Calamity and Joan of Arc I love the way she looks in her underwear I lose my page then the plot then the book then I swear She makes the most of her time by loving me plenty She knows there’ll come a day when we won’t be getting any The stain of the sepia the butcher Crimea Through the wreck of a brass band I though I could see her In a cakewalk she came through the dead and the lame Just a little bird floating on a hurricane I was flat on my back with my feet in the thorns I was in between the apples and the chloroform She came to me often I was sure I was dying It was always hard to tell if she was laughing or crying I thought I heard somebody calling In the dark I thought I heard somebody call Joan never cared about the in-betweens Combed her hair with a blade did the Maid of Orleans Said Christ walked on water we can wade through the war You don’t need to tell me who the fire is for Oh bring me the love that can sweeten a sword A boat that can love the rocks or the shore The love of the iceberg reaching out for a wreck Can you love me like the crosses love the nape of the neck? Was it Casey Jones or Casey at the Bat Who died out of pride and got famous for that Killed by a swerve laid low by the curve Do you ever think they ever thought they got what they deserved Pity the bullet and pity the man Who both find their place in the same sad plan Who both are like the barrel going over the falls Crying all the way down I never asked to be involved I thought I heard somebody calling In the dark I thought I heard somebody call General George began the day by taking pink little pills Sent his men to the top of some hell of a hill Through the whisper of trees came artillery breeze He said I love the way the wind comes a-tickling my knees Jane shot the apple right between the eyes I was thinking of her when you came outside Lemonade on your breath sun in your hair Did I mention how I love you in your underwear? Deep in the belly of a whale I found her Down with the deep blue jail around her Running her hands through the ribs of the dark Florence and Calamity and Joan of Arc I thought I heard somebody calling In the dark I thought I heard somebody call
Mind’s Eye What’s it take to make the dime drop? All of these kids who think they’re quick on the draw Always shooting at outlaws I’m busy keeping my Colt cocked And I’m gonna know you when you finally come Cause I got you in my mind’s eye I got you in my mind’s eye I’m gonna take up the Steinway Waiting for the bullet that I’ll never see come I’m gonna start me a new wave I’m putting up with you lightweights Calling me out to the middle of the street Oh I’ve got you in my mind’s eye I got you in my mind’s eye I got you in my mind’s eye My day might be coming yours is coming first I’ll knock you outta your daylights And when you come for me some night You better bring a shovel and be expecting the worst Cause I got you in my mind’s eye I got you in my mind’s eye
Right Moves All of a sudden now you’re back again I thought you were happy with whoever or did you dream about me now and then Did you look up at the stars and feel something for the constellations All those lovers circling round their loves Slings and arrows, dogs and lions, rivers separating touch from touch The comedy of distance, the tragedy of separation Am I making all the right moves Am I singing you the right blues Is there a chance that I could call you Just to see how you are doing? I said how is it that you come back to me? You don’t need the stories of my scars or in the stars to tell you nothing’s free I traded all the innocence I ever had for hesitation I said won’t you tell me where you been? You put a finger to my lips and then you kissed me once and once again The crickets all leapt up and met the moon with a standing ovation Am I making all the right moves Am I singing you the right blues Is there a chance that I could call you Just to see how you are doing? I heard the night birds picking up the song You threw your hair back and sang along And I realized that I might lose you you might lose me Drift apart in the night and never know why and not know how I said what if we are like the Northern sky? What if there are things that come between us that we can’t take back and we can’t make right? You said I don’t know darlin’ but I’m here with you And we’re coming to the chorus now! Am I making all the right moves Am I singing you the right blues Is there a chance that I could call you Just to see how you are doing?
The Temptation of Adam If this was the Cold War we could keep each other warm I said on the first occasion that I met Marie We were crawling through the hatch that was the missile silo door And I don’t think that she really thought that much of me I never had to learn to love her like I learned to love the Bomb She just came along and started to ignore me But as we waited for the Big One I started singing her my songs And I think she started feeling something for me We passed the time with crosswords that she thought to bring inside What five letters spell “apocalypse” she asked me I won her over saying “W.W.I.I.I.” She smiled and we both knew that she’d misjudged me Oh Marie it was so easy to fall in love with you It felt almost like a home of sorts or something And you would keep the warhead missile silo good as new And I’d watch you with my thumb above the button Then one night you found me in my army issue cot And you told me of your flash of inspiration You said fusion was the broken heart that’s lonely’s only thought And all night long you drove me wild with your equations Oh Marie do you remember all the time we used to take We’d make our love and then ransack the rations I think about you leaving now and the avalanche cascades And my eyes get washed away in chain reactions Oh Marie if you would stay then we could stick pins in the map Of all the places where you thought that love would be found But I would only need one pin to show where my heart’s at In a top secret location three hundred feet under the ground We could hold each other close and stay up every night Looking up into the dark like it’s the night sky And pretend this giant missile is an old oak tree instead And carve our name in hearts into the warhead Oh Marie there’s something tells me things just won’t work out above That our love would live a half-life on the surface So at night while you are sleeping I hold you closer just because As our time grows short I get a little nervous I think about the Big One, W.W.I.I.I. Would we ever really care the world had ended You could hold me here forever like you’re holding me tonight I look at that great big red button and I’m tempted!
Open Doors I thought I heard you pulling up outside It’s just the wind whisperin’ through the pines I haven’t seen who I’m looking for Just empty shadows in my open door The empty closet where you hung your clothes The empty hooks where you hung your coat The cellar steps or the kitchen floor They don’t catch shadows like an open door Do open windows keep the rain away? Do open eyes keep the ghosts at bay? I thought an open door would bring you in Now I guess I’m gonna have to guess again I find myself hoping for a storm Each silver lining is a crown of thorns I find myself hoping for the rain You don’t see shadows on a cloudy day Go to the corner where the ghosts hang out They’ll all agree with what I’m talking about They’d haunt your halls and walk through walls before They’d ever set foot in an open door Do open windows keep the rain away? Do open eyes keep the ghosts at bay? I thought an open door would bring you in Now I guess I’m gonna have to guess again I’m saving nickels and I’m saving dimes I’m gonna kiss you where the sun don’t shine And all those shadows gonna kiss them too Just as long as they come in with you Do open windows keep the rain away? Do open eyes keep the ghosts at bay? I thought an open door would bring you in Now I guess I’m gonna have to guess again
Rumors Serenade me with rocks, love No lullabies through the locks, love I locked myself in with the band But the music’s never loud enough Decibels in the belfry Hey what the hell if it helps me I put a whip to the kick drum But the music’s never loud enough So you’re gonna have to show me How that dance is done The one where somebody leaves someone My orchestra is gigantic This thing could sink the Titanic And the string section’s screaming Like horses in a barn burning up He plays pianos with fistfuls Of broken Belvedere crystal And he’s trying to forget you But the music’s never loud enough So you’re gonna have to show me How that dance is done The one where somebody leaves someone He’s impaling the front row Fighting fires with arrows And he’ll act like he forgot you But the music’s never loud enough So you’re gonna have to show me How that dance is done The one where somebody leaves someone
Wait for Love I got someone on my mind And she don’t make me wait the way you do But time Oh she holds me all the time And she don’t make me wait the way you do Wait for love Sometimes babe we all have to wait for love I got someone on my mind And she holds me pretty much the way you do But time She holds me all the time And she don’t make me wait the way you do Wait for love Sometimes babe we all have to wait for love
Real Long Distance You’re a real mean mama but you got a lot of time for me And I know it ain’t common to find your kinda love for free It’s a drag and a sigh and that’s not all I’m calling real long distance it’s a real long distance call Telephone ringing mama please don’t you leave it alone Don’t leave no breaks in the line it’s the only thing that’s tied to home It’s a drag and a sigh and that’s not all This is real long distance it’s a real long distance call Woo!
Next to the Last True Romantic He’s riding the plains living up to his name As the next to the last true romantic He knows that his story is tragic But he can’t rest Til he’s next To you All the girls know his fame the men curse his name And they talk about him like he’s magic But he’s the next to the last true romantic And he can’t rest Til he’s next To you He’s stolen hearts like they’re horses And horses when hearts can’t be found He keeps riding from one horse to one horse to one horse towns (It gets him down!) He know’s he’s a fool to get caught up with you But he’s the next to the last true romantic He can’t let go of love once he’s had it And he can’t rest Til he’s next To you There’s always whiskey and women and women and whiskey around He can’t tell which is worse to be dying of thirst or to drown (It gets him down!) So he smiles through the pain he pinch Estelle he dance with Jane Sometimes even he don’t know how he stands it But he’s the next to the last true romantic And he can’t rest Til he’s next To you
Moons There are planets you don’t know And there are moons that you don’t see Invisibles between the rings of Mars and Mercury The harbors that they built for the ships to set me free And sometimes when it’s all too much I know they’ll come for me Come for me
Still Beating I know the dog days of the summer Have you ten-to-one out-numbered Seems like everybody up and left and they’re not coming back The shadow that you’re standing on’s still here sometimes that’s all that you can ask And your heart’s still beating You’re not the fastest draw in town now How many times you been shot down now? Seems like everybody else could see the things you never did But if you could yourself you’d probably never have made it through the things you did With your heart still beating I know the dog days of the summer Have you ten-to-one out-numbered It seems like everybody else saw trouble sneaking up behind Left you half dead in the street but that just means you’re half alive And your heart’s still beating
Empty Hearts So save all of your light For those who can’t sleep at night And who can’t even sing to their shadows Oh they ride into town And they throw the shots down And they save the last round for the windows Singing don’t let me into this year with an empty heart With an empty heart Don’t let me into this year with an empty heart I’m inside with my friends We build fires and pretend That the night could just bend on forever While outside in the frost Are the wolves and the lost And we sing to the dogs or whoever Singing don’t let me into this year with an empty heart With an empty heart Don’t let me into this year with an empty heart There’s a friend that I have And for her I’ll go back You see all of these empties that I’m holding They’re too much for a man Empty arms, empty hands And she’ll know me by the sound of my hoping Singing don’t let me into this year with an empty heart With an empty heart Don’t let me into this year with an empty heart