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Josh Ritter Songbook

5 March 2013

Store date: 31 October 2007

The second of the two 2007 Josh Ritter Halloween concerts – and there were, indeed, two: a standard one at the Workplay Theatre and a very special midnight show inside Laser’s Edge – was an amazing event. I might even call it legendary, but that’s just my sentimental side rising to the surface. If you were there, you can tell me if “legendary” is stretching reality or not. I am not apt to ever forget it. This is one of the many reasons why.

Josh Ritter_songbook_cover signature

My dear friend, Marlene, who had driven over from Atlanta for the shows, saw me eyeballing this spiral-bound collection of Josh’s songs while we were at the Workplay concert. I commented how beautifully put together I thought it was, but I didn’t buy one; it didn’t make a whole lot of sense for me, you see, because I don’t play an instrument. But later, after the Laser’s Edge show, at about one o’clock in the morning, she produced this copy of it. She’d asked Josh to sign something on it, and he did. That’s what you see above. He’s an honest, appreciative guy. I think we were all on some emotional high that night, anyway. Marlene and I were two of only a very small handful of people that knew I would be announcing the closing of the store the next morning; I had also told Josh. He seemed to be tailoring his song selection and commentary in response to the next day’s announcement; Marlene thought so, too.

As I open the front cover of the songbook now, I see – on the back of a Laser’s Edge special order card – Josh’s telephone number and e-mail address, written in his hand. Call me if you ever need anything – I remember him telling me – and keep in touch. I’ve never called that number, but I did send him a note once the dust settled, thanking him for that Halloween and for everything he’d done with and for us since 2001, when he first appeared on my radar. I don’t recall getting a reply, but a reply wasn’t necessary. He’d done plenty.

In her haste to sneak Josh’s inscription onto the book and keep it from my busy eyes, Marlene wrote her own note to me inside the back cover of the songbook. But it is written upside down, as she was in a secretive rush:

Dear Fred –

I wanted to make sure you had this because you said how much you loved it. I don’t even want to mar it with my words. Because Josh is helping you with your thoughts and emotions tonight by being here – you should have this. He’s meant a lot to both of us!

Love, Marlene

Josh Ritter_songbook_Heaven Is So Big

[The lyric above decorates page 64 in Josh Ritter’s book, Songs, and is taken from his song “Thin Blue Flame.”]

  1. Ken Lenoir permalink

    The Workplay show was legendary. The set he did afterwards at Lasers Edge was beyond legendary! Glad you shared this.

  2. Marlene permalink

    Fred, it was an emotional night and I still miss Laser’s Edge. It was a store of learning, teaching, thoughts, opinions and magic. I am laughing because I remember trying so hard to sneak that out of the building! I didn’t even know I signed it upside down! Josh means a lot to us not only because his music is brilliant but also because we (Koch Distribution) distributed Josh’s first two CD’s and we knew then what we were about to experience. I’m so grateful I got to experience so many moments with you and Josh. I am going to get his CD and listen with you and memories in mind.
    Love you F.S.!

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