Read time: 5 minutes

Late Nite Music Club With James McMurtry

[For those of you interested in something a tad classical tonight, Our sister site Newstalgia has the Lausanne Chamber Orchestra in a live concert re

[For those of you interested in something a tad classical

tonight, Our sister site Newstalgia has the Lausanne Chamber Orchestra in a live concert recorded on October 9, 2007 playing Ravel and Poulenc.]

Hard to believe, but James McMurtry wrote this song five years ago and unfortunately, it's still as topical and powerful as if it was written yesterday.

Excerpts from a 2006 interview follows the jump:

James McMurtry is not a morning man. He drawled a weary greeting when reached by telephone at home in Austin, seemingly unaware that a call was forthcoming from a journalist. In spite of the disturbance, he wanted to talk. Evidently, this is not an artist who stands on ceremony.

Then again, he should be accustomed to the attention by now, having received plenty of it in recent months following the release of his song, "We Can’t Make It Here," a scathing indictment of pernicious outsourcing by U.S. companies and the callous obfuscations of the Bush administration. The tune and its message have drawn praise from the likes of The Nation magazine, which called it a "haunting reflection on corporate globalization and wars of whim." The Washington Post wrote of McMurtry having "the passion of a doomsday evangelist," while Robert Christgau (Village Voice) and Stephen King (Entertainment Weekly) both put the song high up on their best-of lists for 2005.

"This record has outsold everything else I’ve done," said McMurtry, sounding a little surprised. Childish Things, the album which features "We Can’t Make It Here," continues to sit atop the Americana Music Chart, as it has for more than two months, which is in itself a record.

McMurtry received his first guitar at the age of seven as a present from his father, writer Larry McMurtry, and long ago proved his mettle as a singer-songwriter, albeit a relatively obscure one, releasing his first album, Too Long In The Wasteland (produced by another rock activist, John Mellencamp) back in 1989. Kasey Chambers, Townes Van Zandt and Robert Earl Keen, among others, have since covered his songs. "I’ve written protest songs before," said McMurtry, "but this one just got more attention. I used to suppress it. I didn’t want to be a preacher. I just had to risk it ‘cause things are so bad now."

Lyrics here:


There’s a Vietnam Vet with a cardboard sign

Sitting there by the left turn line

Flag on his wheelchair flapping in the breeze

One leg missing and both hands free

No one’s paying much mind to him

The V.A. budget’s just stretched so thin

And now there’s more coming back from the Mideast war

We can’t make it here anymore

That big ol’ building was the textile mill

That fed our kids and it paid our bills

But they turned us out and they closed the doors

We can’t make it here anymore

See those pallets piled up on the loading dock

They’re just gonna sit there ‘til they rot

‘Cause there’s nothing to ship, nothing to pack

Just busted concrete and rusted tracks

Empty storefronts around the square

There’s a needle in the gutter and glass everywhere

You don’t come down here unless you’re looking to score

We can’t make it here anymore

The bar’s still open but man it’s slow

The tip jar’s light and the register’s low

The bartender don’t have much to say

The regular crowd gets thinner each day

Some have maxed out all their credit cards

Some are working two jobs and living in cars

Minimum wage won’t pay for a roof, won’t pay for a drink

If you gotta have proof just try it yourself Mr. CEO

See how far $5.15 an hour will go

Take a part time job at one a your stores

Bet you can’t make it here anymore

There’s a high school girl with a bourgeois dream

Just like the pictures in the magazine

She found on the floor of the laundromat

A woman with kids can forget all that

If she comes up pregnant what’ll she do

Forget the career, forget about school

Can she live on faith? Live on hope?

High on Jesus or hooked on dope

When it’s way too late to just say no

You can’t make it here anymore

Now I’m stocking shirts in the Wal-Mart store

Just like the ones we made before

‘Cept this one came from Singapore

I guess we can’t make it here anymore

Should I hate a people for the shade of their skin

Or the shape of their eyes or the shape I’m in

Should I hate ‘em for having our jobs today

No I hate the men sent the jobs away

I can see them all now, they haunt my dreams

All lily white and squeaky clean

They’ve never known want, they’ll never know need

Their shit don’t stink and their kids won’t bleed

Their kids won’t bleed in their damn little war

And we can’t make it here anymore

Will work for food will die for oil

Will kill for power and to us the spoils

The billionaires get to pay less tax

The working poor get to fall through the cracks

So let ‘em eat jellybeans let ‘em eat cake

Let ‘em eat shit, whatever it takes

They can join the Air Force, or join the Corps

If they can’t make it here anymore

So that’s how it is, that’s what we got

If the president wants to admit it or not

You can read it in the paper, read it on the wall

Hear it on the wind if you’re listening at all

Get out of that limo, look us in the eye

Call us on the cell phone tell us all why

In Dayton Ohio or Portland Maine

Or a cotton gin out on the great high plains

That’s done closed down along with the school

And the hospital and the swimming pool

Dust devils dance in the noonday heat

There’s rats in the alley and trash in the street

Gang graffiti on a boxcar door

We can’t make it here anymore.

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