What I'm Listening To: Josh Ritter's "The Temptation of Adam"

With thanks to my good friend, Mark (my "music pusher"), I have been absolutely absorbed by Josh Ritter's new album, The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter--like, I mean, seriously obsessed with it to an absurd degree. In particular, I just can't shake a stunning song, "The Temptation of Adam." It tells a fascinating, rather surreal story while at the same time exploring the aspects of the sort of "love" that only lives in sequestered situations ("desert island"-relationships, you might call them). The lyrics indicate something of the poetry, but this doesn't do justice to it as a song (with mellow acoustics). The YouTube video of a live performance captures some of this, but I would highly recommend splurging on the album. (And it really is an "album"--a throwback to the days when an album was a "work," a kind of sustained meditation on a theme. This album [plus bonus CD] have a symphonic quality about them insofar as one keeps hearing echoes and reprise. Great stuff.)

"The Temptation of Adam" Lyrics:

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