22 May 2005

James McMurtry

I posted some time ago about Larry McMurtry, but would now like to take some time to write about his son, James McMurtry. James is a popular musician in Austin and Houston, and has performed many times at the Supper Club in Archer City. My mother sent me one of his CD's some years ago, and the more I listened to it, the more it grew on me. I had listened to country music almost exclusively up until high school, but dropped it fairly quickly. I would hear a song and say "Oh God, not that again!" only to hear the radio announcer say it was brand new. Hearing songs before they come out is not a good sign, so I finally opened myself to other alternatives.

I have not returned to mainstream country, and don't intend to, but one night at the old CowHaus I watched Alejandro Escovedo perform with local musician Pat Puckett. It turned out to be the closest thing to a religious experience I have ever had. Not long after, I received McMurtry's CD, so I was in a frame of mind to give it a fair chance. I have been hooked ever since and have found every one of his album's to be absolutely addictive.

James is not the best singer, but he has a particular talent for writing lyrics, and could probably rival his father for sheer creativity should he ever write a novel. I think most of my appreciation stems from finding something that relates so well to my own experiences and what I am confronting in my life right now. When you realize you have been in a perpetual mid-life crises since graduating high school, it is good to hear something that can make you say "but I'm OK with that."

Another thing that impresses me about James is discovering his politics are similar to mine. Just when he got to a point where he is enjoying more mainstream success, he has come to the conclusion that he cannot keep silent on what is happening in this country, and has joined the ranks of Steve Earle and the Dixie Chicks. His latest "protest song" is available for free download at http://www.jamesmcmurtry.com/. This won't help him in Texas, and may hinder him at a time when he seems to be on the verge of a career breakthrough. All the more reason for me to take my hat off to him. Wait, I don't have a hat. I need a hat . . .

However, politics and talent aside, he would be cool if only for the fact that he is willing to put up with my relatives.

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