Florida’s Bureau of Tourism may want to take note: With his video for “Forgotten Coast,” James McMurtry has released the perfect Visit Florida postcard. At least until the Percodan and wine make an appearance.
Filmed throughout the state’s breathtaking panhandle region, the video follows the celebrated singer-songwriter as he drives along the Gulf in a vintage Ford Falcon. Stopping at rundown shacks and trailers, McMurtry lays down some greasy licks on a resonator guitar, warily sizing up the camera with a dead-eyed stare. He also makes time to do a little bowfishing, cruising the water with the oystermen he sings about in the lyrics.
“Forgotten Coast” is a standout off McMurtry’s remarkable album Complicated Game, released last winter. Sauntering along with a ragtime rhythm, the song extols the hideaways and coves of the area, where the artist promises no one will ever find him as he walks “the beach with a pirate’s ghost.” Eventually, he threatens, he’ll cut his hair and change his name, when the “Percodan can’t touch the pain.” (Cue the pills-and-booze-in-a-motel-room scene.)
McMurtry excels at such imagery, and Complicated Game tracks like “Deaver’s Crossing” and “Carlisle’s Haul” are chock full of descriptive lines. Some of it is culled from McMurtry’s own experiences.
“Deaver’s Crossing” was framed in part by fishing trips with family. “It’s actually a fictionalized account of some people that had a farm on the banks of, where we fished it, it was Jeremy’s Run,” McMurtry told Rolling Stone Country in February, sharing a glimpse into his creative process. “At one time, the Deavers would let you park in the pasture. After the spring rains passed by and the creek went back down, they’d actually wade out into the creek and lay flat rocks out there to make a ford, so you can drive across. After a while, they got enough of it, because people kept coming down the mountain in the middle of the night wanting aspirin, so they quit keeping the ford.”
That same sense of authenticity is what fuels the “Forgotten Coast” video, along with its locations and people. When director Thierry Vivier lingers on some locals and their dogs during the song’s instrumental breakdown, the suspicious looks they shoot — as if you’ve wandered unannounced onto their property — are real-life gold.