Complicated Game

McMurtry Complicated Game Review

One of the many glowing reviews of James McMurtry’s new album Complicated Game.  I will write a review when I get off the review.  There is no doubt it is one of the best records of the year.  (And I say that knowing it is February.  It is that good.)

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New James McMurtry Out Today

James McMurtry’s new album Complicated Game is out today.  McMurtry is one of the best songwriters in America.  I probably won’t be able to review the new album until next week.  In the meantime here is one of the tracks off of it.  I’m really looking forward to diving into this record when I get the time.

New James McMurtry Interview In The Austin Chronicle

James McMurtry Interview

There is a new James McMurtry interview in the Austin Chronicle about his upcoming album Complicated Game.  McMurtry has long been one of my favorite artists to check out in Austin, and is really one of our country’s best songwriters right now.  The new album drops on February 24th.  I’ve posted the above video before, but for those of you that missed it, or have never heard McMurtry before, this is the single off the new record.

James McMurtry How’m I Gonna Find You Now Video

James McMurtry, one of the best artist’s from Austin or anywhere, will be released his new album, Complicated Game, on February 25th.  I’ve been meaning to post the video for How’m I Gonna Find You Know, his new single, for some time, but it evaded my grasp.

Ruins of the Realm

Standin’ in the middle of a Roman street
Marble dust all over my feet
Bearded masses at the gates
Dancin’ in the ruins while it’s not too late

Drivin’ a Rolls through old Bombay
Rickshaw driver’s in my way
Well he’d better move over and he’d better move fast
Dancin’ in the ruins of a golden past
Dancin’ in the ruins of the Raj
Queen and country’s noble cause

Standin’ on banks of the river Seine 
I ain’t got tuppence to my name
Stand my ground and I cast my net
Dancin’ in the ruins where the sun don’t set
Dancin’ in the ruins of the Crown
Enfield rifles keepin’ us down 

I got a thirty-ought-six and a premium load
In a shotgun shack on a two lane road
Smack in the middle of the bible belt
Dancin’ in the ruins all by myself

We got the National Guard with the bayonets
We got the ten commandments on the State House steps
We shalt not steal and we shalt not kill
Dancin’ in the ruins of our own free will
Dancin’ in the ruins of the South
Confederate flag taped over my mouth

We thank thee lord for all we got
While the multi-nationals call the shots
So scrape them hides and clean that slate
Dancin’ in the ruins of the nation-state

We’ll fight ’em in the land, we’ll fight ’em in the air
Little cowboy says we got to fight ’em over there
You ain’t seen nothing like it since Saigon fell
Dancin’ in the ruins ’cause we might as well
Dancin’ in the ruins of the realm
A fool and a mad man at the helm
Dancin’ in the ruins of the Reich
Down in the bunker on a hunger strike

By James McMurtry. I will be with Shinyribs at the Saxon Pub tonight in Austin.  We go on at 11pm.  James McMurtry, one of my absolute favorites will take the stage before us at 8pm.  I am going to try to be there for all of set.  I was up till 4:30am last night, so I may be running slightly late.  I feel like half the man I used to be today!  

The Power of Political Music

It seems to be a common belief held by many these days that music doesn’t have much of a political role.  Often when a musician tries to get political they are treated in the press as naïve fools.  Sometimes the press will even admit that the musicians mean well, but rarely are they ever treated with any kind of seriousness.  Even when the press looks back to the 60’s, and yes I am generalizing, the political music of that time is treated as some kind of failed experiment.  This would deny the very real contributions that musicians made to end the Vietnam War.  This would also be to deny the contribution that music made to the Civil Rights movement.  Can you imagine the protest movement without its singers?  Can you imagine the Civil Rights movement without the song Amazing Grace

That’s not to say that all political music is good.  Often it can be naïve and simplistic.  Eve of Destruction is not Masters of War.  If you aim to do anything in this world you should aim to do it well.  The reason why James McMurtry’s We Can’t Make it Here Anymore and Neil Young’s Living with War, to name two more recent examples, are so inspiring is because they are so well conceived. 

I mentioned in a pervious post that I have been reading a lot about Custer and the events surrounding his famous Last Stand.  Custer used to travel into battle with a brass band.  Upon a charge he would have them strike up music for inspiration.  Often it was the song Garry Owen.  Sitting Bull, on the other side of the battle, was known earlier in life to sing as he went into battle.  To say that music has no power is foolish.  It has always been there to inspire battles of both peace and war. 

Also if music has no power than why did the FBI keep a file on John Lennon?  Why was Buffy Sainte-Marie blacklisted by the Johnson Administration?  Why is someone like Morrissey today, who has very antiestablishment ideas in his songs, often treated as less than serious by much of the mainstream press? 

If music has lost any political power in recent years it has nothing to do with music in and of itself.  I would say that there aren’t as many serious writers tackling political themes in ways that were as accessible as in the 60’s.  A good deal of the political songs of the 60’s, no matter how deep their lyrics, often had melodies that even a child could memorize.  I love atonal art rock as much as the next guy, I actually do, but people often forget that melody is the first key in unlocking someone’s emotions.  Also mainstream radio has marginalized music of any intelligence.  It’s hard to inspire a mass movement when there is much less potential to cross over to a mass audience.  The airwaves are full of plastic people saying disposable things.  There is also the problem of the internet, which does allow people that have been marginalized the potential to make political statements, but also drowns people in information so that it is harder for any one thing to gain mass appeal. 

I am a fan of overtly political music if it is done well.  If it is not I might appreciate the gesture, but I probably won’t be returning.  However, I truly believe that well done political music still does have the power to make a difference.  If done in the right way it can convey truths in a simple form that can reach those that might not have the time to do research or read a book.  It can touch the spirit in ways that very little journalism ever can.  There is powerful magic there, which can move the soul into action, sometimes before the conscious mind even knows in what direction it is headed.  

Quote

Ruins of the Realm

Standin’ in the middle of a Roman street
Marble dust all over my feet
Bearded masses at the gates
Dancin’ in the ruins while it’s not too late

Drivin’ a Rolls through old Bombay
Rickshaw driver’s in my way
Well he’d better move over and he’d better move fast
Dancin’ in the ruins of a golden past
Dancin’ in the ruins of the Raj
Queen and country’s noble cause

Standin’ on banks of the river Seine
I ain’t got tuppence to my name
Stand my ground and I cast my net
Dancin’ in the ruins where the sun don’t set
Dancin’ in the ruins of the Crown
Enfield rifles keepin’ us down

I got a thirty-ought-six and a premium load
In a shotgun shack on a two lane road
Smack in the middle of the bible belt
Dancin’ in the ruins all by myself

We got the National Guard with the bayonets
We got the ten commandments on the State House steps
We shalt not steal and we shalt not kill
Dancin’ in the ruins of our own free will
Dancin’ in the ruins of the South
Confederate flag taped over my mouth

We thank thee lord for all we got
While the multi-nationals call the shots
So scrape them hides and clean that slate
Dancin’ in the ruins of the nation-state

We’ll fight ’em in the land, we’ll fight ’em in the air
Little cowboy says we got to fight ’em over there
You ain’t seen nothing like it since Saigon fell
Dancin’ in the ruins ’cause we might as well
Dancin’ in the ruins of the realm
A fool and a mad man at the helm
Dancin’ in the ruins of the Reich
Down in the bunker on a hunger strike

Lyrics from Ruins of the Realm by one of my Austin favorites, James McMurtry.