As 2017 winds to a close this weekend, so does President Trump’s first calendar year inside the White House. For alt-country songwriter James McMurtry, the time is ripe for reflection. . .and perhaps some scathing sociopolitical commentary, too.
A stunningly fiery folksong, McMurtry’s “State of the Union” spins the story of an all-American family torn apart by the same issues that plague the country at large. There’s a fascist brother who’ll “tell you it’s tough to be white”; a gun-owning, Bible-thumping sister; a mother who digs the buffet at Golden Corral; and a father who “always treated his Mexicans good.” At the center of the story is our narrator, whose cardigan sweater and snowflake-worthy views put him at odds with his right-wing relatives. A microcosm of America, the family struggles to get along, unable to put aside its differences even during the mother’s 80th birthday celebration.
The song unfolds in sharp, literate detail, filled with the all-too-familiar household arguments and dinner-table debates that soundtracked many a family reunion this holiday season. McMurtry delivers each verse with a Dylan-esque cadence that’s half-sung and half-spoken, and the result is a song that doesn’t point fingers as much as outline the contentious political present. Listen to “State of the Union” below or download it for free from his website.
James McMurtry will join Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit for a six-week tour starting on January 4th.