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Where'd You Hide the Body

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iTunes Review

For his third album, 1995’s Where’d You Hide the Body, Texas songwriter James McMurtry hooked up with producer Don Dixon, guitar extraordinaire David Grissom, and other crack back-up musicians to deliver a full-blown middle-American rock workout, and the wall of sound threatens to overtake McMurtry in spots. His lyrics are careful observations laced with wry wit that when delivered in McMurtry’s dry tone sound fatalistic, the result of inarguable fate. Here, they can pass in a whisper as a guitar is likely to drive the emotional point home. Musicianship is highlighted throughout: “Late Norther” is an instrumental, and tracks such as “Iolanthe,” “Levelland,” and “Rayolight” are country-influenced rockers as much as spot-on observational tales. McMurtry’s a natural outsider. His music relates to people who time is passing by (“Off and Running,” “Fuller Brush Man”) and for whom there is no comfortable niche —much like his own career, where he straddles the line between country, folk, and rock without falling victim to the usual songwriting clichés in any of them.

Customer Reviews

American art at its best

How I could possibly be the first to review this masterpiece of Americana is beyond me. But there you have it: this album is beyond reproach. Nobody tells stories in their songs quite as well as James. And his stories are all interesting. They're not filled with the pedestrian tales of love and heartbreak. These songs document the everyday and touch any of us who live everyday lives. Many of these songs seem to deal with a longing for an escape from the monotony of life. Off and Running, Levelland, One More Winter, Down Across The Delaware all brilliantly evoke that longing and hope for something better. Rachel's Song has some of the most haunting and vivid lyrics about a single alcoholic mother struggling to survive. Despite their subjects, these songs and their characters leave you feeling high. Listening to this album is almost like reading a great novel about the American experience. The story is not always pretty, nor is it perfect, but it's America and therefore we enjoy the introspection. One of the greatest albums I have ever owned, without a doubt. I will give it to my kids some day. One of my favorite lines of all time comes from Levelland: "Mamma used to roll her hair back before the central air/ We'd sit outside and watch the stars at night/ She'd tell me to make a wish and I'd wish we both could fly/ Don't think she's seen the sky since we got the satellite dish."

Great songwriter; this record includes several of his best

James McMurtry writes songs filled with real characters and sharp observations. Check out Levelland, Rachel's Song, Where'd You Hide the Body and Right Here Now.

Stands the Test of Time

I've followed JM since "Wasteland" and still think this is his most consistent and best effort. I case you haven't heard, he's not blessed with a great voice, but it grows on you, as do the songs on this album which reflect a Springsteen-like vision of America (and particularly McMurtry's Texas homeland), that is, a contradictory mix of great hopes and great hardships. Like the Boss, his lyrics reflect a great knack for detail (no doubt influenced by his his Father's talents). Must listens are "Ionlanthe"; "Off and Running"; "Rachel's Song" and "Down Across the Delaware."

Biography

Born: March 18, 1962 in Fort Worth, TX

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Texas singer/songwriter James McMurtry, known for his hard-edged character sketches, comes from a literary family; his father, novelist and screenwriter Larry McMurtry, gave James his first guitar at age seven, and his mother, an English professor, taught him how to play it. McMurtry began performing his own songs while a student at the University of Arizona and continued to do so after returning home and taking a job as a bartender. When it transpired that a film script McMurtry's father had written...
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