Until 2004, singer-songwriter James McMurtry was known mainly as a highly-respected chronicler of hard-bitten heartland characters living hardscrabble lives on the fringes. Then he released the single “We Can’t Make It Here,” a scorching indictment of the Bush administration and the power elite, earning the unassuming Texan increased fame and a newfound “unabashed activist” label.
Four years later, the man novelist Stephen King has called “the truest, fiercest songwriter of his generation” came back with a new album (Just Us Kids, Lightning Rod Records) that found him skewering Bush and company with even more fervor but with the same eloquent terseness. We caught up with McMurtry back in 2008 as he and his band, The Heartless Bastards, prepared to head east on their latest tour. He shared his thoughts on the process of songwriting, the drudgery of touring and the reason why Leonard Cohen must die.
If you missed it then, enjoy it now: