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James McMurtry and his Bad Ass Songs

James McMurtry

AP Photo/Jason DeCrow

James McMurtry

James McMurtry isn’t singing your daughter’s country music. McMurtry paints pictures of small-town life using crisp guitar tones and concise poetry. McMurtry carries all 40 of his years as a guitar player with him in his albums, delivering deep-rooted Americana from a Midwestern perspective that could make even the slickest of city slickers feel for the people of the plains. McMurtry’s legacy continues with every new album he releases, and resonates long after the music ends.

James McMurtry

James McMurtry

Songs like Choctaw Bingo slide you onto a dessert highway on the Oklahoman plains headed to a David Lynch like family reunion. Uncle Slayton’s got Texas pride and an Asian bride and an oldest boy named Roscoe. He cooks up crystal meth cuz nobody’s buying moonshine these days.

Second cousins Ruth Ann and Lynn with their cut off britches and skinny little halters come down from Baxter Springs where they got bikers bars next to lingerie stores decorated with Rolling Stone lips.

There’s blue catfish caught on jug lines and there’s homemade whiskey because they still know how. There’s missed payments and repossessed land, airstream trailers, Holstein cows and a knife and gun place called Pop’s. There Club 69 where the Johnny Walker flows, there’s SKS rifles, steel core ammo, surplus tracers and pistols made by bad-ass Hebrews. And there’s Choctaw Bingo every Friday night.

Uncle Slayton’s got Texas pride and an Asian bride and an oldest boy named Roscoe. He cooks up crystal meth cuz nobody’s buying moonshine these days.

Asked in an interview at The Rumpus how he characterizes the fantasy he sells as opposed to the one mainstream country artists’ sells he answers:

I sell the fantasy of the disgruntled third son that sees through the myth. I can’t blame country for wanting to sell the myth, but they’re still selling what they have done with the old home place. They’re rewriting that constantly. The last big one was that Montgomery Gentry song, “Daddy Won’t Sell the Farm.” “He’ll live and die in the eye of the urban storm / Daddy won’t sell the farm.” I try to do it the other way and write it from somebody that knows what they did to the old home place. Your evil aunt Francis got power of attorney and sold it out from under everybody, and they developed it. That’s what happens in real life.

 

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