McMurtry At McCabe’s

I didn’t see one person I knew.  Either inside or waiting outside for the 10 PM show.

That’s the modern music business.

Yes, he played "We Can’t Make It Here", but the highlight for me was the opening number, "Down Across The Delaware".

Watch the video here:

James McMurtry – Down Across The Delaware 
(Sorry about the ad, sorry about the localization.)

The relevant lyrics are:

I heard a voice today I swore I knew
From somewhere down in the southern sticks
I turned around to see some ragged stranger
Bummin’ change on the uptown six
And I froze like a stone
Could I ever get that low?
Turned my face to the window
There by the grace of God I go

We’re only a motion away from personal devastation.

Most are only a paycheck away from financial ruin.

If you think you’re immune you’re dreaming.  It’s the nature of the human condition.  No matter how rich Steve Jobs is, cancer got him and he’s having a hell of a time beating it.

Which is why you’ve got to love your brother, keep an eye out for him, pray that the safety net catches you on the way down. We’re only here for a short time.  Personal initiative goes a long way, but not all the way.  You’re nothing without society, without people.  Maybe that’s one of the reasons that Jesse Colin Young song is a perennial, we do all have to get together.

And "Down Across The Delaware" is about separation/divorce/human disconnection.  That’s another thing that’ll break your bank account, put you into poverty.

But before the show James told me we’re screwed as long as people keep needing so much stuff.

That’s what it comes down to, right?  If you raise my taxes, I won’t be able to buy the stuff I need.  Works whether you want to buy a private plane or purchase a new flat screen.  Americans feel entitled, to more, more, more.  The concept of sacrifice is anathema.  But do we really need all the things we think we do?

And who’s going to pay for them?

I hope the economy rebounds and everybody gets what they want.  But it looks like the opposite is happening.  When are we all gonna pitch in and fix this country.  Instead of demonizing the government and asking what it can do for us when we want to give it nothing in return.  I mean how do you expect to fill the potholes if you don’t pay taxes?

You think you need money to make it in music.  You think you need to be ubiquitous.  That if you’re a journeyman, you’re lost.

But the journeyman gets to play forever.  His time comes and it never goes.

James McMurtry is up there telling his stories, evidencing all the years of practice on his guitar, and his loyal audience comes to see him.

And that’s all there is.

There’s no front page story in a newspaper no longer being read.

There’s no video on an MTV that’s all reality shows.

There’s no million selling CD.

There’s just the music.  And that’s got to be enough.  Journeymen can’t afford backdrops and dancers, frequently they can’t even afford a band.

Songwriters are bitching they can’t get paid in the new world.

Yes, you can.  You can put your old kit bag over your shoulder and go on the road.  Those radio dreams are history.  People find out about music online and support those artists who are authentic, who are playing to them, not the gatekeepers.

Everybody wants to go back to the past.  Well, that’s what we’re doing.  Only it’s further back than you contemplated, before CDs, before radio, when you made your living live.  Are you up to the challenge?

James McMurtry is.

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