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Too Long In Obscurity
on February 24, 2003
I agree with the sentiment expressed by another reviewer that if radio programmers had any imagination, James McMurtry would be a superstar. But, to borrow a line from one of McMurty's songs, the programmers 'work from the neck down', they 'don't call the shots'.
This release alone should have established James McMurtry as a musical superstar, yet as fate has it, he continues to languish in relative obscurity despite a string of pretty decent albums.
I bought "Too Long In the Wasteland" on cassette back when it was released years ago. I was instantly struck by his pithy and witty lyrics, and his dry sardonic delivery.
The very first song, Painting By Numbers, strikes an immediate chord with all who feel trapped in meaningless, dead-end jobs.
I'm Not From Here will resonate with anyone who has moved to another part of the country and encountered the prejudice of regionalism, particularly directed against those who come from states that have contributed large numbers of newcomers to an area. For instance, native Coloradans don't particularly like the influx of Texans and Californians, and so segments of the native population harbor resentments against people from those states. The lyrics could describe many a western city:
nobody's from here
most of us just live here
locals long since moved away
sold their played-out farms for parking lots
went off looking for a better way
The rest of the song rings just as true. I noticed driving home from a long trip today that many ranches are for sale 50-100 miles out from the city as landowners seek to cash in on soaring property values and to escape encroaching urbanization. And I see the same all over the west.
Another favorite from this CD is Talkin' at the Texaco, which perfectly describes how stultifying small town life can be.
The other songs are excellent, too, but in the interests of brevity I highlighted only the best ones. Mc Murtry has an obvious knack for storytelling in such a way that cuts to the chase.
I recommend this CD to anyone who is attracted to a little realism in music and who enjoys an alternative country/folk type of sound.