James McMurtry is the son of Western writer Larry McMurtry. While the father is one hell of a writer (you may remember reading or watching Lonesome Dove years ago), the son is one hell of a songwriter. “We Can’t Make It Here Anymore” is a devastating anthem to America’s decades-long decline and fall from its former manufacturing greatness to our present rust belt diminishment.
This song is remarkable in a lot of ways — it’s one of the rare songs that can stand on level ground lyrically with Bob Dylan’s greatest songs, for one. But I’m posting it for a different reason: because, in this song, McMurtry channels the same hard anger and despair that just put Donald Trump in the White House. It’s about why “Make America Great Again” hats were all the campaign advertising Trump needed to pull his base on board. (That and generous doses of fear-mongering, ridicule, and immigrant-bashing.)
In the song, though, McMurtry comes to a different understanding of our predicament than Trump and his voters do. They, in their anger and fear of the future, lash out at minorities, immigrants, Moslems, and liberals. McMurtry doesn’t fall for that easy blame. He calls out the real enemy at the end of the song. (You’ll just have to listen to it to find out who or what that is…) To me, one of Indivisible’s biggest challenges is helping Trump’s voters — our neighbors, more often than not — see beyond those too-easy decoys to the real sources of the misery and despair so many feel.
Trigger warning for parents of very young children:
the “sh*t” word is used a time or two in this song.