13 Songs, 57 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

For his third album, 1995’s Where’d You Hide the Body, Texas songwriter James McMurtry hooked up with producer Don Dixon, guitar extraordinaire David Grissom, and other crack back-up musicians to deliver a full-blown middle-American rock workout, and the wall of sound threatens to overtake McMurtry in spots. His lyrics are careful observations laced with wry wit that when delivered in McMurtry’s dry tone sound fatalistic, the result of inarguable fate. Here, they can pass in a whisper as a guitar is likely to drive the emotional point home. Musicianship is highlighted throughout: “Late Norther” is an instrumental, and tracks such as “Iolanthe,” “Levelland,” and “Rayolight” are country-influenced rockers as much as spot-on observational tales. McMurtry’s a natural outsider. His music relates to people who time is passing by (“Off and Running,” “Fuller Brush Man”) and for whom there is no comfortable niche —much like his own career, where he straddles the line between country, folk, and rock without falling victim to the usual songwriting clichés in any of them.

EDITORS’ NOTES

For his third album, 1995’s Where’d You Hide the Body, Texas songwriter James McMurtry hooked up with producer Don Dixon, guitar extraordinaire David Grissom, and other crack back-up musicians to deliver a full-blown middle-American rock workout, and the wall of sound threatens to overtake McMurtry in spots. His lyrics are careful observations laced with wry wit that when delivered in McMurtry’s dry tone sound fatalistic, the result of inarguable fate. Here, they can pass in a whisper as a guitar is likely to drive the emotional point home. Musicianship is highlighted throughout: “Late Norther” is an instrumental, and tracks such as “Iolanthe,” “Levelland,” and “Rayolight” are country-influenced rockers as much as spot-on observational tales. McMurtry’s a natural outsider. His music relates to people who time is passing by (“Off and Running,” “Fuller Brush Man”) and for whom there is no comfortable niche —much like his own career, where he straddles the line between country, folk, and rock without falling victim to the usual songwriting clichés in any of them.

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Ratings and Reviews

4.8 out of 5
28 Ratings

28 Ratings

ShekiPete ,

American art at its best

How I could possibly be the first to review this masterpiece of Americana is beyond me. But there you have it: this album is beyond reproach. Nobody tells stories in their songs quite as well as James. And his stories are all interesting. They're not filled with the pedestrian tales of love and heartbreak. These songs document the everyday and touch any of us who live everyday lives. Many of these songs seem to deal with a longing for an escape from the monotony of life. Off and Running, Levelland, One More Winter, Down Across The Delaware all brilliantly evoke that longing and hope for something better. Rachel's Song has some of the most haunting and vivid lyrics about a single alcoholic mother struggling to survive. Despite their subjects, these songs and their characters leave you feeling high. Listening to this album is almost like reading a great novel about the American experience. The story is not always pretty, nor is it perfect, but it's America and therefore we enjoy the introspection. One of the greatest albums I have ever owned, without a doubt. I will give it to my kids some day. One of my favorite lines of all time comes from Levelland: "Mamma used to roll her hair back before the central air/ We'd sit outside and watch the stars at night/ She'd tell me to make a wish and I'd wish we both could fly/ Don't think she's seen the sky since we got the satellite dish."

Tom Ferrell and the Calm ,

Best ever

You got the guys most people know, who in the genre are considered the best, Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Son Volt, Wilco, The jay hawks ect. And you are always trying to argue who is the best. Hands down it is James McMurtry. Lyrics, vocals, melody, guitar, and production are the very best I have ever heard. Always waiting for the next one, thanks for doing it the right way.

songwriterfan ,

Great songwriter; this record includes several of his best

James McMurtry writes songs filled with real characters and sharp observations. Check out Levelland, Rachel's Song, Where'd You Hide the Body and Right Here Now.

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