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Childish Things

62 customer reviews

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Audio CD, September 6, 2005
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

While Childish Things isn't a political record, the centerpiece has to be 'We Can't Make It Here', McMurtry's commentary on the current state of the Union. This is his first studio album in over three years. Comparde. 2005.

Within the song cycle of innocence and experience that is Childish Things, James McMurtry continues to explore musical territory between rock and a hard place. The social commentary of the relentlessly bleak "We Can't Make It Here" and "Six-Year Drought" is more pointed than ever, while the arrangements throughout are as taut, muscular and slap-in-the-face direct as the songs. While the opening "See the Elephant," the title cut, and "Memorial Day" evoke a younger person's sense of wonder, the mortal lessons have plainly taken their toll by the closing "Holiday." Along the way, highlights range from the accordion-laced yearning of "Charlemagne's Home Town" to the Chuck Berry-style, guitar-driven rock of "The Old Part of Town" to a stirring duet with Joe Ely on "Old Slew Foot." With his terse, cut-to-the-bone artistry, McMurtry never wastes a word or a note. --Don McLeese

1. See The Elephant
2. Childish Things
3. We Can't Make It Here
4. Ole Slew Foot
5. Bad Enough
6. Restless
7. Memorial Day
8. Six-Year Drought
9. The Old Part Of Town
10. Charlemagne's Home Town
11. Pocatello
12. Holiday

Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 6, 2005)
  • Original Release Date: 2005
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Compadre Records
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #191,825 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

69 of 75 people found the following review helpful By Kurt Harding VINE VOICE on September 28, 2005
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I've been a fan of James McMurtry ever since I saw him play the Leon Springs Cafe when he was touring his first album many years ago. While he has never attracted the critical acclaim and national commercial success he deserves, McMurtry has been hard at work all these years honing his craft and building a grassroots fan base that continues to expand as word gets around that he is no pretender. With the issue of Childish Things, McMurtry should at long last be destined for glory.

Like Robert Earl Keen Jr, Dave Alvin, and Ray Wylie Hubbard, McMurtry is a master story teller. He covers all sorts of topics, mostly telling stories about ordinary people and their struggles. But he is at his best when he is in a mood of righteous indignation. Whatever side of the globalization debate you are on, you have to agree that We Can't Make it Here is about as hard-hitting as it can get! It graphically expresses the inchoate rage of millions trapped between the old economy and the new. It's a rather timeless theme, though the circumstances be ever-changing. But McMurtry really nails it and makes you think about what he is saying.

We Can't Make It Here is the standout, but there are lots of other good songs here. See the Elephant is kind of a fun song, Memorial Day details the anticipation and excitement of a family holiday gathering, Six-Year Drought speaks to the despair of those affected by it, while Holiday is a bleak and disaffected view of the loneliness often felt by those who have to work during the holidays. There are some great rockers as well, The Old Part Of Town and Pocatello stand out in that regard.

If you are an old fan of James McMurtry, then you will find Childish Things to be one of his best. If you are new to his music, then this is as good a CD as any to start yourself down the road to becoming a devoted fan. Enjoy!
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48 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Kevin L. Nenstiel TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 21, 2006
Format: Audio CD
James McMurtry is angry. Not the loud and raucous gloom of mainstream rockers like Green Day, or the camera-friendly pessimism of country stars like Tim McGraw; no, James McMurtry is angry at very specific diseases in out time and society. And he's telling everybody exactly how angry he is and why.

On most of McMurtry's recordings, the sound is spare to make room for his weighty lyrics. Like a Texas-fried Bob Dylan, McMurtry has something to say, and he wants you to hear it clearly. This album is as stark as the Bible and as incisive as a double-edged saber. The language is not pretty (he twice encourages someone to eat feces, though the word he uses is much more forthright than "feces") and his message is not dolled up in pithy turns of phrase. But all this about the plainspoken nature of the lyrics doesn't deny the fact that, as a songwriter, McMurtry is smart and witty. References on this CD include the Buddha, Marcel Proust, Charlemagne, and others. McMurtry may be earthy, but he is literate, and he expects you to be as well.

Ten of the twelve songs on this disc were written by the artist himself. He also covers "Old Slew Foot," a classic old bear-hunting beater, joined on the vocals by Flatlander Joe Ely; and Peter Case's "Old Part of Town," about how you sometimes have to go backward to go forward. And that about sums up the theme of the album. McMurtry believes we as a society took the wrong fork in the road and, if we want to survive, we need to reverse ourselves and get straightened out. Or, as he puts it on the epic-length third track, "We Can't Make It Here Anymore."

Some people will be bugged by the message-heavy nature of this disc. And some people won't like the stripped-down, driving sound of the music itself.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By prisrob TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 24, 2007
Format: Audio CD
"When someone with as much writing talent as McMurtry takes up his pen to speak out on the state of things today, you know it's going to carry a tremendous amount of weight, as well as passion. McMurtry delivers a brilliant new disc filled with compassionate, heartfelt lyrics and strong, deeply rich melodies, answering the question I've long been asking, "Where are today's voices of outrage?" Here they are."
Kathy Coleman

James McMurtry is known for his song 'We Can't Make It Here', a protest song from the 2004 elections that shows "compassionate conservatism as a smokescreen for adding to the coffers of the rich, despite the detrimental impact that it has upon those who are less fortunate". It is sung with the cadence of a man who scorns those people and knows their dirty secrets. James grew up with dad; author Larry McMurtry, after his parents divorced. He picked up a guitar at the age of seven and never put it down. He credits 'Little Feat' and 'The Band' as early influences. He says as well that the "revelatory concerts courtesy of Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson" opened his eyes to the social fabric of the United States of which he sings. He plays guitar and sings with his group 'The Heartless Bastards'. This album depicts a man who like many of us, has come to face disappointment with the reality of life in these United States. The twelve songs on this CD flow effortlessly from one to another. Yet, each has its own story to tell.

'See The Elephant'-'I Want To See The Elephants', which is about a circus or travelin' show where a young man will get his first sexual experience.
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