all the other girls here are stars you are the northern lights
I made my 4th trip to the Fillmore last night, this time to see Josh Ritter. Now I like Josh Ritter, and not least because he plays that kind of pretty, twangy, up-tempo then down tempo music that reminds me of Montana. Like Patagonia or Antarctica, Montana is one of those inspiring places where the vistas outnumber the people, and things seem possible and like they might even definitely turn out in some simple but good way, and even if they don’t they would because you’d be the kind of person who likes ambiguity with your vistas. Now, San Francisco itself is a city characterized by surprising views, like when your fully grounded walking up Fillmore and suddenly it drops off the side of the world at Bay and you’re staring down at the Marina and the water beyond and on and on and on, and you think to yourself, “Oh there it is. Eternity. It is the sea matched with the sun.” Like literally you find yourself quoting Rimbaud right there, and for a minute you get the happiness shimmer in your chest, like the tilt-a-whirl or a whip-it in the park on a sunny afternoon. It’s that Montana feeling again. It’s an almost subconscious realization that what you think is true might be wrong, but the real truth might be good, if totally outside the parameters you were imagining. It is very difficult to imagine anything truthfully, which is why you should never daydream about approaching vacations.
Josh Ritter gives good Montana feeling. Especially, Josh Ritter at the Fillmore, a place already so magical, it can’t really be overstated: the huge lightless chandeliers, the framed show posters and concert photos covering the walls, the barrel of apples in the foyer. And Josh Ritter knew all this, you could tell. I don’t know if he’s played the Fillmore before, but the point is if he had you never knew it. He never stopped smiling, so much so that I started to think it was some kind of nervous twitch, like this librarian I had once who always had what can only be described as a toothy grimace on her face. But I don’t think that was the case last night. I think he may have been smiling because he knew he was about to stun the crowd by calling Joan Baez onto the stage to sing with him, and then read Poe’s Annabelle Lee to a rapt audience. Surprising vistas indeed.