James McMurtry taps into his rich body of work

James McMurtry taps into his rich body of work

By Paul T. Mueller

Singer-songwriter James McMurtry released his first CD in 1989, so it’s pretty much inevitable that his shows these days resemble career retrospectives. At an August 26 solo acoustic show at Houston’s McGonigel’s Mucky Duck, McMurtry led off with “Melinda,” from his 1995 album Where’d You Hide the Body.

James McMurtry (photo by Paul T. Mueller)

Next came the title track of 2002’s Saint Mary of the Woods; more songs from other stages of his career followed, accompanied by masterful work on six- and twelve-string guitars. They included “a medley of my hit,” the raucous “Choctaw Bingo,” and “Levelland,” which McMurtry described as “one of the Robert Earl Keen songs that I wrote.” Four songs from last year’s excellent The Horses and the Hounds made the cut; the later-in-life romance tale “Canola Fields” might have held particular significance for audience members, many of whom were old enough to have been fans from the beginning. McMurtry closed on a upbeat note with “If It Don’t Bleed,” a wryly humorous look at aging that tempered ruefulness (“there’s more in the mirror than there is up ahead”) with acceptance (“it don’t matter all that much if it don’t bleed”).

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