Ritland Daily Ramble #18

Quote of the day
Sometimes you say things in songs even if there’s a small chance of them being true. And sometimes you say things that have nothing to do with the truth of what you want to say and sometimes you say things that everyone knows to be true. Then again, at the same time, you’re thinking that the only truth on earth is that there is no truth on it. Whatever you are saying, you’re saying in a ricky-tick way. There’s never time to reflect. You stitched and pressed and packed and drove, is what you did.
– Bob Dylan

Songwriting is ridiculous
Songwriting doesn’t really make a lot of sense. There are so many factors involved, from knowing your craft to being able to feel the spirit (intuition, of course, proving the existence of the spirit).

In the article you can read here I ramble a little bit about how strange and difficult it is to write a song. It’s sort of a “sky piece.” I wrote it quickly and didn’t edit it too much. I was in the spirit, you could say.

*                           *                           *

Song of the day
“Illegal Smile” by John Prine (click to listen)
Somehow I discovered John Prine only a few months ago. I had heard a few covers of his “Paradise,” which is my third favorite song of all-time, but I never went out of his way to listen to him.

I have a strange habit of buying CDs whenever I see them for sale. I do this because I know that there’ll be a time in the future when I can’t. So I bought a few CDs at Barnes and Noble this fall and Prine’s self-titled debut was among them.

“Illegal Smile” is the leadoff track from what is by far my favorite album discovery in years. It’s a song glorifying smoking weed, essentially, but in such a way that you hardly notice. Instead of beating you over the head with the message Prine instead he winks and nudges, something he’s as good at doing as Warren Zevon:

When I woke up this morning things were looking bad
It seemed like total silence was the only friend I had
Bowl of oatmeal tried to stare me down – and won
It was 12 o’clock ‘fore I realized I was having no fun

Ah, but fortunately
I have the key to escape reality

And you may see me tonight with an illegal smile
It don’t cost very much but it lasts a long while
Won’t you please tell the man I didn’t kill anyone
No, I’m just trying to have me some fun

*                           *                           *

Picture of the day


Immortal lyrics from “Illegal Smile.” It wouldn’t kill anyone if you shaved your pits either, lady.

Erik Ritland is a journalist and musician from St. Paul, Minnesota. He is a contributor for Minnesota culture blog Curious North and writes frequent Daily Rambles. Ramblin’ On catalogs his writings on culture, music (including his own projects), sports, religion, and many other topics. You can reach him via email here.


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About Erik Ritland

Erik Ritland is a journalist (http://www.ramblingon.net) and musician (http://www.erikritland.com) from Minnesota. Rambling On, his blog and podcast, has been releasing seriously fun content about sports, music, culture, and more since 2012. He has written and recorded almost 10 albums of unique rock n' roll/alternative rock/Americana since 2002.

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