These chords are old but we shake hands
Cause I believe that they're the good guys
We can use all the help we can
So many minor chords outside
I fell in love with the sound
Oh I love to sing along with you
We got tunes we kicked around some
We got a bucket that the tunes go through

Babe we both had dry spells
Hard times in bad lands
I'm a good man for ya
I'm a good man

Last night there was a horse in the road
I was twisting in the hairpin
My hands held on my mind let go
And back to you my heart went skipping
I found the inside of the road
Thought about the first time that I met you
All those glances that we stole
Sometimes if you want them then you've got to

Babe we both had dry spells
Hard times in bad lands
I' a good man for ya
I' a good man

They shot a Western south of here
They had him cornered in a canyon
And even his horse had disappeared
They said it got run down by a bad, bad man
You're not a good shot but I'm worse
And there's so much where we ain't been yet
So swing up on this little horse
The only thing we'll hit is sunset

Babe we both had dry spells
Hard times in bad lands
I'm a good man for ya
I'm a good man



Lyrics submitted by EffulgentEnnui

Good Man song meanings
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11 Comments

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  • +2
    Song Meaning

    Think this is about music but more specifically Simple Chords. Says it right in the first phrase. "These chords are old but we shake hands", but there are "so many minor chords outside". The "bucket that the tunes go through" is his guitar. Second verse "My hands held on my mind let go" is a reference to using more difficult chords but then... "back to you my heart went skippin'" OH and "stealing glances with the chords" is an example of a literary technique called personification (I believe). You also can't shake hands with a chord, but he says it flat out in the first phrase. Last verse I'm still trying to make complete sense of, but basically the song does have a western feel. I believe when he says "You're not a good shot but I'm worse", he is cleverly stating that their relationship is a "long shot". The "little horse" I believe he is referring to is again his guitar.

    Just a thought.

    dontlistentomeon October 27, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    This one reminds me a lot of Brandi Carlile's song "The Story." In both cases, you can read the lyrics as an artist's love for the music. But you can also read them as a straight-up love song. The balanced ambiguity is beautiful in both cases.

    Embassyon June 26, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    This song has distinct "Western," John Ford-type theme to it. Josh does an excellent job of weaving the story of a "good man" in the context of the American cowboy. The only specific reference I can get is the "They shot a Western south of here" verse. It seems to be a distinct reference to 'The Lone Ranger,' a 1950s TV show where the lead character was a former U.S. ranger whose convoy was ambushed in a canyon by outlaws. He was the only survivor and was rescued by an Indian and went on to represent a type of vigilante "good" man, hunting outlaws by himself. The verse seems to be a distinct reference to that particular show. Another awesome song.

    calvinmscotton November 05, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General Comment

    I wanted this song to mean a lot of things but the reason I'm coming back to it (after the last post was what.. 10 years ago?) is because I think everyone sort of got it right but not quite.

    Think of it as a cover band's love letter to an artist or even an artist asking to replay another song by someone they greatly respect. It's not unheard of for someone to go all out to get permission to cover or even use a song in a film (Jack Black and Led Zeppelin come to mind for "School of Rock"). This song plays like Josh is shaking hands across time with an artist that is accomplished but, like him, writes tracks they are proud of and tracks they are not. Doesn't stop him from loving their stuff and asking - politely - if they'd like to let him use it.

    With that in mind, it suddenly starts to make an awful lot of sense and even the Lone Ranger imagery seems to place the moment in time.

    Turkus2on May 27, 2018   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    When I first heard this song, I thought for a second it was a cover of some long-lost Bob Dylan number, which I think is a pretty big compliment. Definitely a "different" kind of love song, but one with such sincerity and bluntness in the poetry of the lyrics.

    It always makes me think of sitting at the top of the Grand Canyon in perfect silence (only the occasional bird tweeting) with someone you love, or driving through the surrounding country, just you and one other person and good music. It's just about two people who aren't perfect, but who somehow belong together. I don't know. I'm Australian and this is verging on American country/folk music, so what do I know? It's just a beautiful song.

    xanyaon August 11, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    This song is a testament to Josh Ritter's undying love for making music. He's not talking about a girl, even though that's what it sounds like. He's professing his love for playing his guitar, and playing it well.

    tag2010on August 30, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    How can you steal glances at your guitar? I could see it being his music except for that line. -"All those glances that we stole." It implies that there is in fact another person here

    matthewconteon January 15, 2009   Link
  • 0
    My Opinion

    Sounds more to me like he's speaking how even though he and his love aren't perfect, music seems to bring them together; forgetting imperfections.

    Soporificon June 17, 2009   Link
  • -1
    General Comment

    what a good love song. by comparing them he's implying that the two of them are good for each other and deserve each other.

    aside from the amazing lyrics, the tune and beat of this song are on point. i love it.

    fireplaceon August 15, 2006   Link
  • -1
    General Comment

    what a good love song. by comparing them he's implying that the two of them are good for each other and deserve each other.

    aside from the amazing lyrics, the tune and beat of this song are on point. i love it.

    fireplaceon August 15, 2006   Link

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