He Doth Protest

by | Jul 5, 2008


James McMurtry, son of Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and Oscar-winning screenwriter Larry McMurtry, is a brave writer in his own right. One listen to “Cheney’s Toy” off his latest album, Just Us Kids, is proof enough.

You’re the man
Show ’em what you’re made of
You’re no longer daddy’s boy
You’re the man
That they’re all afraid of
But you’re only Cheney’s toy

Washington Post reporter J. Freedom du Lac says McMurtry is a “famously caustic observer of Americana.” Freedom du Lac also says McMurtry, 46, has crafted one of the year’s best albums in Just Us Kids, which artfully mixes provocative portraits with political screeds.

McMurtry’s dad is justifiably proud of his son’s work and achievements. “One element of music is poetry, and poetry is a lot harder than fiction,” his father says. “A lyric is the hardest form. You have to concentrate and squeeze those words. I respect James a lot for having found his own art and done it so well.”

When McMurtry is at home in Austin, he performs a midnight set every Wednesday night at the Continental Club on South Congress. He’s almost always preceded onstage by singer-songwriter Jon Dee Graham.

Graham says, “He’s pretty fucking precise; I think he’s always looking for the right words. And as a songwriter, I respect the hell out of him. He’s able to create, whole cloth, out of thin air, things that never happened to people who don’t exist, and to make them funny, witty, insightful and a general comment on the world. How do you do that?”

MP3: “Cheney’s Toy by James McMurtry