A Visualization Exercise

Sometimes, in high school sports, a coach would suggest we try visualization. The idea being that if you clearly imagined the events leading up to and through a desired outcome, it would have a positive influence on your mental state, and might improve your performance.

This evening, I very much wish I were 400 miles west of here. I know that no amount of visualizing the outcome is going to levitate my body to Portland, but it might make me happier. I keep reminding myself that as a responsible adult I cannot call in sick for a concert. Even when I was already in Portland this weekend and had to drive away from the show that I wanted so badly to see.

Anyone who knows me knows how I feel about Josh Ritter. It may be kind-of a joke actually. But it’s true, I hold him in great esteem, I think he is a brilliant songwriter, and I feel lucky for the brief interactions I’ve had with him (Okay, floating the Boise River with him and his band may have been one of the best days of my life, and I had to try really hard not to come off star-struck. There… it’s all on the table.)

So tonight I am going to lead myself through a visualization exercise, entirely unrelated to sports. Come with me.

With my vast disposable income, I booked us a last minute flight to Portland (on Horizon, so we could enjoy a complimentary microbrew or glass of wine on the way), and we made our way to the Crystal Ballroom. It’s a McMenamin’s venue on Burnside with the kind of atmosphere you’d expect to find in a treasure that’s been around since 1914. It’s a near sell-out show, and the excitement is palpable.

The mingling, murmuring crowd hosts a wider variety of faces than you might expect: hipster teenagers, Portlandia 30-is-the-new-20-somethings, couples in their 50’s and 60’s, and everything inbetween. The common ground is not something you can put your finger on immediately, but it’s something in their eyes, a sparkle, they are happy.  Not in a yeah-I’m-at-another-concert-what-a-cool-way-to-spend-a-Wednesday-night-drinking-and-talking-over-the-music way, but in a I’m-excited-and-the-show-hasn’t-even-started-yet-I’m-so-giddy-I-may-pee-my-pants way. Okay. They don’t all look like they need to pee, that would be unsettling. They look, like they already know what a good time they’re in for.

The opener is appreciated and sets a great tone for the evening. I apologize, I can’t give you many details on Scott Hutchinson, but he is warmly applauded as he finishes his set, and the crowd presses closer in anticipation.

Then it’s time. Josh Ritter and The Royal City Band take the stage amid much screaming and yelling.

Sine this is my visualization I get to write the set list. I think, that since this is a new tour, it won’t be dominated by the tracks from So Runs the World Away, but they will still be prominently featured. However, Josh will go back and play with some old favorites, because he can.

Since the band has been driving through some crazy storms in the Dakotas and Montana, he decides to open with ‘Snow is Gone’.


Come and Find Me

Good Man


Still Beating

Lillian, Egypt


To the Dogs or Whoever

Change of Time


Folk Bloodbath

The Temptation of Adam

Golden Age of Radio

Wait for Love

Rattling Locks (maybe the EP remix, I haven’t heard it yet)

Monster Ballads

Another New World

Here at the Right Time


Long Shadows


Empty Hearts


Other Side



The crowd will have sing-along parts to play on Change of Time, and Empty Hearts, Wait for Love and maybe something new.

Josh will take one song and blend a surprising ‘bridge’ into the middle of it. A cover, of something clever and unexpected.

His stage presence will not disappoint, and he will take several opportunities to make the audience laugh, with one long story thrown in for good measure. His smile might be described as mischievous, both bashful and confident, definitely genuine and contagious, and I would guess that even on the days he doesn’t feel up to it, that doesn’t change.

We’ll wander out in an ears-slightly-ringing daze, following the last of the show-goers into the crisp night air, with a lingering sense of euphoria. (Like I would be anything less than euphoric when my favorite artist has played all of my favorite songs in one night.) The earliest flight in the morning will get be back in time for school, and as I wait for the kids to come in I’ll wonder briefly, as I do from time to time, why I don’t live in Portland.  If you’ve never had the opportunity to see Josh Ritter perform, you are missing out…  but (as they say on Reading Rainbow) you don’t have to take my word for it!

The Egyptian Theater ~July 15th, 2009~


As I was finishing up this post, I received several phone calls. From my little brother, his girlfriend, my mom, and my dad. No words. Just holding the phone up so I could hear a few of my songs (apparently I’m not unique in my favorite choices).

Thank you guys so much!! I might have teared up a little, not because I was sad I wasn’t there, but because it was so nice of you to include me.





~ by Lindsey on February 24, 2011.

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