Exclusive: Listen to Josh Ritter's Bittersweet New Single, "Thunderbolt's Goodnight"

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Exclusive: Listen to Josh Ritter's Bittersweet New Single, "Thunderbolt's Goodnight"

Josh Ritter’s “Thunderbolt’s Goodnight” has been quite some time in the making, and now, at long last, listeners can enjoy the beautiful tune exclusively via Paste today.

Ritter’s ninth full-length album, Gathering, is coming out this fall, and its release will mark 20 years since the beginning of the singer-songwriter’s recording and performing career.

“Thunderbolt’s Goodnight” is the second single from Ritter’s new record after “Showboat,” and as he explains, the song’s “arresting ambiguity” proved elusive for a long while:

Ever notice how on postcards you can’t tell if the sun is coming up or going down? This was in my head for several years as I rolled the idea around, tried to make it fit and then gave up. Each time I felt as if the song I was working on didn’t live up to the arresting ambiguity of the image of a sun at set or rise. Finally, one day, between walking the dog and putting the kid to bed, I sat down and played a few chords at random and the idea rose to the surface like a hungry fish. The song itself took about ten minutes to write—proof that most of the time even when I’m feeling lazy and useless, there’s a song going round and round in the back of my mind, forming and waiting for its chance to hit the stage.

The image that dogged Ritter—that of Schrodinger’s sun, rising and setting at once—is the keystone of “Thunderbolt’s Goodnight,” a bittersweet entreaty to a lover on the verge of leaving. “All my life before I met you, when I was trying hard in love,” Ritter sings, “I thought the sun was going down, but the sun was coming up.” He recalls “all my devils I made deals with so I wouldn’t have to sleep alone,” rueing those darker days before he realized that true love was still ahead of him. It’s a heartfelt ballad, set to a lovely blend of acoustic fingerpicking, glowing piano chords and subtle pedal-steel accents, all in perfect sync with Ritter’s earnest tenor.

Gathering is out on Sept. 22 via Pytheas Recordings/Thirty Tigers and available for preorder here. Listen to “Thunderbolt’s Goodnight,” watch his fall 2015 Paste Studio session and see Ritter and his Royal City Band’s upcoming tour slate below.

Josh Ritter & The Royal City Band Tour Dates:

22 – Dallas, Texas @ Granada Theater
23 – Birmingham, Ala. @ Saturn
24 – Atlanta, Ga. @ Variety Playhouse
25 – Carrboro, N.C. @ Cat’s Cradle
27 – Boston, Mass. @ House of Blues
28 – Portland, Maine @ State Theater
29 – New York, N.Y. @ Brooklyn Steel

01 – Pittsburgh, Pa. @ Mr. Smalls
02 – Washington, D.C. @ Lincoln Theater
04 – Northampton, Mass. @ Calvin Theater
05 – Philadelphia, Pa. @ Union Transfer
08 – Toronto, Ontario @ Opera House
09 – Chicago, Ill. @ The Vic

02 – Berlin, Germany @ Passionskirche
03 – Nijmegen, Netherlands @ Doornroosje
04 – Amsterdam, Netherlands @ Paradiso
05 – London, U.K. @ O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire
06 – Belfast, U.K. @ Mandela Hall
07 – Dublin, Ireland @ Vicar Street (seated show)
08 – Dublin, Ireland @ Vicar Street (standing show)
10 – Limerick, Ireland @ Dolan’s
11 – Cork, Ireland @ Cork Opera House

12 – Austin, Texas @ ACL Live at the Moody Theater
13 – Houston, Texas @ Heights Theater
15 – Tucson, Ariz. @ Rialto Theater
16 – San Diego, Calif. @ Belly Up
17 – Los Angeles, Calif. @ Teragram Ballroom
19 – San Francisco, Calif. @ The Fillmore
20 – San Francisco, Calif. @ The Fillmore
24 – Portland, Ore. @ Crystal Ballroom
25 – Seattle, Wash. @ Neptune
26 – Spokane, Wash. @ Knitting Factory
27 – Boise, Idaho @ Knitting Factory
29 – Denver, Colo. @ Ogden
30 – Lawrence, Kan. @ Liberty Hall
31 – Minneapolis, Minn. @ Fitzgerald Theater

16 – Nashville, Tenn. @ Ryman Auditorium

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