Animal Inventory Blog

Keeping track of animals in popular culture.

Josh Ritter and the Digital Fish tank

Posted by lisagbrown on October 5, 2007

Josh Ritter is a local Boston folk-scene fixture. His recent appearance as musical guest on David Letterman solidified his status as an up-and-coming star. All the more reason why this charming, self-effacing performer should be noticed; not only for his singer-songwriter talents, but also for the ways that animals play a role in his music.

Last night I saw Ritter play live at the Somerville Theater in Davis Square. In between songs he told a story. He and his bandmates have recently discovered the digital fish tank, a DVD of fish. A single camera is statically focused on a tank. Every two hours the film is looped back to the beginning, to create an endless movie of fish tank livelihood. Ritter deadpaned that the fish tank was an exciting hotbed of action and he and his bandmates were riveted. The crowd laughed at Ritter’s apparent irony, but I think his comments were as honest as they were comedic. Surely a man who wrote an entire album called The Animal Years (2006) finds worth in the observation of animals. He went on to lament how difficult it is to get to know a fish’s personality. Again, the crowd laughed because fish don’t have personalities, right? But Ritter continued: Is the fish friendly? Is it mean? The ongoing guffaws of the audience confirmed my suspicions of their thoughts: fish are fish — the suggestion of personality differentiation is nothing more than stand-up comedy!

Ritter ended the story by wondering aloud what kind of fish he would be. At the very least, he determined, Zack Hickman his bassist (a statuesque man with an impeccably maintained handlebar mustache) would be a Manta Ray.

To hear Josh Ritter’s music and find tour dates click here.

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