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James McMurtry — Off And Running
Album: Where'd You Hide The Body
Avg rating:
6.8

Your rating:
Total ratings: 963









Released: 1995
Length: 3:49
Plays (last 30 days): 1
Answer me when I call to you
What became of the life I knew
Tell me why I can't be free
Tell me what you expect of me
I'm so down about it
I can't sleep at night
I sit watching the bugs as they bounce off the light

Answer me when I'm calling out
Tell me what's all the noise about
Explain to me the rules of love
Tell me just what I'm guilty of
I somehow I must've missed it
I never knew I was blind
Repeat it real slow so I get it this time

(chorus)
I'm off and running to take what's mine
I'm off and running again

I 'm off and running
To take what's mine
I'm off and running
And I won't get caught this time
With my soul on empty and my face to the wind
I'm off and running
I'm off and running again

Answer me when I call your name
What'd you do with my ball and chain?
I'm out here in the open air
And I can't find it anywhere
And I'm so lost without it
It was such a part of me
I guess I'll get along
How hard can it be?
Comments (88)add comment
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I had the great pleasure of seeing him at the Stone Mountain Arts Center in Brownfield, Maine several years back. We 'won' ticket for dinner and his show for an embarrassingly small sum at a charity auction. Nobody else bid! I knew of him from listening to RP, and I bought two digital albums. When we got to the venue, most of the attendees I spoke with hadn't heard of him.  I sang along, and I swear he was looking right at me all night. Can't not love him after that. 
One of the great songwriters/ strummers. Plays live every Wednesday at midnight when he is not on the road. They don't make them like James anymore.
Too much of James McMurtry. He's so repetitive !
 Singlow wrote:
Never heard of him... Sounds like a combination of Bruce Coburn and Warren Zevon...
 
You should get out more, a lot more ..... what else have you missed?
Love JM's song writing.  Love Ray Wylie Hubbard's interpretations of his songs.
This isn't a happy song... but it makes me feel good each time I hear it.
Maybe I want to be off and running?  {#Ask}
 Steely_D wrote:

I think once guys get older and their solar sex panel is exposed, the hat becomes important.

 
The hat ... That's where he hides the body.
 dwlangham wrote:
His voice has PSD appeal.

 
It's camouflage for his extraordinary lyrics. Kinda like Lou Reed was back in the day.
 Hannio wrote:
I saw James at the airport a while back, wearing his hat.  I think it might be surgically attached.

 
I think once guys get older and their solar sex panel is exposed, the hat becomes important.
Agreed. 

luv4music wrote:
One of the best songwriters around today.

 


wonder if he has ever toured with the boss
Never heard of him... Sounds like a combination of Bruce Coburn and Warren Zevon...
me like
I saw James at the airport a while back, wearing his hat.  I think it might be surgically attached.
His voice has PSD appeal.
If you like this tune, you'll love the album.  One of McMurtry's best.  
My opinion of a song/artist is often determined by my mood and what issues I'm facing when it comes on... Today this is an 8.  It just fits me so-o well... Thanks RP for the mixes that seems to find me every day.
One of the best songwriters around today.
 nigelr wrote:
What's to dislike? Easy on the ear.

 
In an easy listening sort of way. Yawn.
 TerryS wrote:

Didn't mean it that way really, after all I do have the 12minute 14 second live version on my "Fark my arse is sore" long ride motorcycle mix.

 
{#Roflol}
 lily34 wrote:
this guy's voice has always been nails on chalkboard for me.

 
me too.
the goods.............{#Dance}.
 cc_rider wrote:

You say that like it's a bad thing...

 
Didn't mean it that way really, after all I do have the 12minute 14 second live version on my "Fark my arse is sore" long ride motorcycle mix.
Just finished reading Under the Dome (Stephen King) where a James McMurtry song (Small Town, or is it really titled Talkin' at the Texaco) is mentioned. How's that for synchronicity? BTW the TV show is awful; at least the pilot was. The book is much better: interesting premise. He knows how to spin a good yarn!
this guy's voice has always been nails on chalkboard for me.
 TerryS wrote:
now with this track, I won't have the relentless melody of Choctaw Bingo off and running through my mind for days
 
Choctaw Bingo was the song that turned me on to JM, here on RP.  Love that song.  It's a great story, but I agree the tune is a little monotonous.  First time I've heard this song.  Like it already.


 TerryS wrote:
now with this track, I won't have the relentless melody of Choctaw Bingo off and running through my mind for days
 
You say that like it's a bad thing...
now with this track, I won't have the relentless melody of Choctaw Bingo off and running through my mind for days
Weird..... I woke up this morning with the lyrics to this song going through my mind... McMurtry has been doing a series of "flash-concerts" all over the place. He posts to Facebook with a location and time and about a day's notice.  It's really cool, except so far, he hasn't ventured over to the west coast.  If I see him post that he'll be performing in Wendover, I'll make the drive.{#Mrgreen}
I like McMurtrey's storytelling quality to his songwriting. The lyrics are loaded with Americana and I like that in my music.
 jdorn1 wrote:
He might be famous if he could clean up and loose the crazy man persona.

 
Lostfreight wrote:
One of the greats: great songwriter, great singer, great guitarist. This guy should be famous. Suggest you check out the album, "St. Mary of the Woods", as well.
 
 
I thought the crazy man persona was part of his charm?  Would anyone give a crap about The Nuge if he wasn't so wild-eyed bat shit crazy?

"Explain to me the rules of love
Tell me what I'm so guilty of..
I didn't know that I was blind.
Repeat it real slow so I get it this time..."
 radioparadisehead wrote:

I met him in Oxford, Mississippi.  He was so unbelievably disheveled/dirty, both physically and personally, that it made his concert less enjoyable.  It wasn't the "hipster-Dylan-wannabe" messiness, either.  It was the, "I have thirty-two cats, and I don't bathe because I'm sort of angry" type of dirty.

 
Y'know, it's funny.  I met him a few years back in Lander, Wyoming, of all places.  He actually seemed to be a nice enough guy, if a little socially awkward. But so am I, so...

He didn't strike me as being overly filthy, but now that I recall the conversation, he did mention that the band had stopped at the laundromat that day. 


This whole album inspires me to write.  And "Too Long in the Wasteland" is excellent, too.  I love James McMurtry's music and lyrics.  Bumping this up to a 10.
 Pyro wrote:
He speaks to me much in the same way as Jackson Browne did in the 70's.
 
Pretty good comparison, although Jackson spoke of loneliness and despair and James seems to hate the stuff around him. Jackson has love and James has disdain.

But man, his ability to write evocative and accurate lyrics...
I grew up in that southern Louisiana/Texas thing and he's so absolutely right on. 
He might be famous if he could clean up and loose the crazy man persona.

 
Lostfreight wrote:
One of the greats: great songwriter, great singer, great guitarist. This guy should be famous. Suggest you check out the album, "St. Mary of the Woods", as well.
 


 meadowwoods wrote:
Don't like anything about this guy. Sorry.

 

makes two of us...or maybe even a few more.  {#Sick}
 meadowwoods wrote:
Don't like anything about this guy. Sorry.

 
{#Nyah} {#Beat}  {#Moon}
Don't like anything about this guy. Sorry.

I really can't dance to it, so I'll give it a 6.

/sarcasm off. {#Shifty}
Wow. Actully his best works of late are St Mary's of the Woods and his live CD. Doubt anyone here's really taken the time - gums a flappin though - typical.
 Montyontherun wrote:

Skanky bloke. We should put together and buy him some soap... and a bath

 

Oh good...like I needed another reason not to like this guy. 
He speaks to me much in the same way as Jackson Browne did in the 70's.
What's to dislike? Easy on the ear.
 petelincandjulie wrote:
Brilliant? I think Bob Seger beat him to the punch . . .
A gypsy wind is blowing warm tonight
the sky is starlit and the time is right

 
Yeah, really brilliant.  See also:

   I'm not talkin' 'bout movin' in,
   And I don't wanna change your life
   But there's a warm wind blowin' the stars around
   And I'd really love to see you tonight.


But compare:

   Gonna find my baby; gonna hold her tight
   Gonna grab some afternoon delight
   My motto's always been When it's right, it's right
   Why wait until the middle of a cold dark night


When trite passes for brilliant, it's time to return to instrumental music.


 radioparadisehead wrote:

I met him in Oxford, Mississippi.  He was so unbelievably disheveled/dirty, both physically and personally, that it made his concert less enjoyable.  It wasn't the "hipster-Dylan-wannabe" messiness, either.  It was the, "I have thirty-two cats, and I don't bathe because I'm sort of angry" type of dirty.

 
Skanky bloke. We should put together and buy him some soap... and a bath

 radioparadisehead wrote:

It was the, "I have thirty-two cats, and I don't bathe because I'm sort of angry" type of dirty.
 
{#Roflol}
 Odyzzeuz wrote:
Bumped into McMurtry at a little French Bistro off Sixth Street here in Austin the other night. He was dining alone. He's quite the eccentric fellow. He's known to have a spectacularly messy home, like scary messy. Excellent songwriter, interesting stylist.
 
I met him in Oxford, Mississippi.  He was so unbelievably disheveled/dirty, both physically and personally, that it made his concert less enjoyable.  It wasn't the "hipster-Dylan-wannabe" messiness, either.  It was the, "I have thirty-two cats, and I don't bathe because I'm sort of angry" type of dirty.

What a song writer...& performer.  Have seen him in Seattle a few times at a small tavern, not recently though, miss his visits up here.
I think this is my favorite McMurtry song, and I KNOW it's from my favorite McMurtry album.  I think it's time to put this one back in the disc player for a couple of spins.  Amazing stuff.
love this guy. so there.
The arrangement at the beginning of this song reminds me of "Crazy for You" by Madonna. I'm sure that makes me evil or something.
Brilliant? I think Bob Seger beat him to the punch . . . A gypsy wind is blowing warm tonight the sky is starlit and the time is right
Damn this is a brilliant song. What'd you do with my ball and chain? I'm so lost without it. It was such a part of me. I guess I'll get along. how hard can it be?
I happen to like abrupt shifts in gear - keep one on one's toes.
Sonic Youth to this?
slartibart_O wrote:
A more ridiculous statement I've never read on RP. Comparing a few repetitive and nasally 3 minute songs (ok 20 minutes in the case of choctaw bingo) to a lifetime's treasure trove of Pulitzer prize winning novels is just vapid.
A Pulitzer, indeed--for a half-baked rehashing of the cowboy myth, and every other sentence containing a comma splice, to boot. I speak of Loathsome Duck, of course--but it was the Pulitzer made mockery of, and little better since (case in point, the idiotic story in the New Yorker a year or so ago about the Gallatin Canyon). McMurtry the Elder is a hack. /further vapidity EDIT: further proof of vapidity--the referenced New Yorker story was actually McGuane. But it was awful.
hmmm thought it was bruce coburn
Interesting, I was just on his website when this tune came up. Nice job Bill!
Xeric wrote:
That's debatable. I don't know where McMurtry the younger got his literary talent, but it SO FAR exceeds his father's that one doubts any connection at all. . . .
A more ridiculous statement I've never read on RP. Comparing a few repetitive and nasally 3 minute songs (ok 20 minutes in the case of choctaw bingo) to a lifetime's treasure trove of Pulitzer prize winning novels is just vapid.
Xeric wrote:
That's debatable. I don't know where McMurtry the younger got his literary talent, but it SO FAR exceeds his father's that one doubts any connection at all. . . .
loo-hoo sserr - herrrr
Huh - though it was Bruce Cockburn in an upbeat mood!
I tried to introduce my wife to JM via Choctaw Bingo. I don't think she really got it. I may try this one instead.
and you and I don't talk alot we don't really have to we spent many years reading each other's mind we used up the lightning now we don't bother fighting such things will happen in time
Well said. But...he didn't slip through my crack...sorrry for the pun. James hit me square between the eyes and I couldn't get get Too Long in The Wasteland out of the tape deck for nearly a year. Simply Amazing storytelling, understated with a tight band! joek wrote:
If anyone likes this you should really check out his first record "Too Long In The Wasteland". It was produced by John Cougar Mellencamp and John Cougar's band was used for all the tracks....I'm not a huge JCM fan but James McMurtry's songs on that record are totally amazing and the band's playing is crazy good. I really think it's a hidden gem of the 1990's that slipped between the cracks because of grunge and the alt-country movement.
Bumped into McMurtry at a little French Bistro off Sixth Street here in Austin the other night. He was dining alone. He's quite the eccentric fellow. He's known to have a spectacularly messy home, like scary messy. Excellent songwriter, interesting stylist.
The soundtrack to a life in retrospect.
If anyone likes this you should really check out his first record "Too Long In The Wasteland". It was produced by John Cougar Mellencamp and John Cougar's band was used for all the tracks....I'm not a huge JCM fan but James McMurtry's songs on that record are totally amazing and the band's playing is crazy good. I really think it's a hidden gem of the 1990's that slipped between the cracks because of grunge and the alt-country movement.
What a great "wordsmith"..IMHO
Moak wrote:
:motor: What a road tune, never heard that one...ridin' the 2-lane into Arizona... :motor:
... ... Hi Moak, what you do with my ball and chain? ... ... ............................ I can't do a thing without it! ................
:motor: What a road tune, never heard that one...ridin' the 2-lane into Arizona... :motor:
jdorn1 wrote:
Ghost of the mooon in the afternoon....bullet holes in the mailbox...
Time sure flies when you're havin' fun Wasn't it just yesterday you turned twenty-one?
I've got most of JM's stuff. I'd be lost without it...;-) Lostfreight wrote:
One of the greats: great songwriter, great singer, great guitarist. This guy should be famous. Suggest you check out the album, "St. Mary of the Woods", as well.
One of the greats: great songwriter, great singer, great guitarist. This guy should be famous. Suggest you check out the album, "St. Mary of the Woods", as well. jdorn1 wrote:
Ghost of the mooon in the afternoon....bullet holes in the mailbox...
Ghost of the mooon in the afternoon....bullet holes in the mailbox...
Never heard of this guy-- :music: Love the sting of that guitar! Judging from all of your comments, looks like I have a new artist to explore.
Good tune! Thanks for introducing him to me RP!
Saw him last Thursday at a small venue in Reno. I was perhaps 6 feet from him and the Heartless Bastards and they put on an outstanding show. For some reason I always thought there was another guitar player, but it's just James. He had something like 7 guitars on stage and would switch with each song. The man can really play! Hopefully he had a great turn out in SF, where he was heading the next day. Anyway, keep the McMurtry coming!
James McMurty jams! Saw him a couple months ago, and he played and played. It was a fun night.
The two albums before this one were MUCH better. Please play some tracks off those albums (if possible). Thanks
His mother is an English professor at the University of Richmond in Virginia. Sat next to her when he played for about 100 folks.
i like this. kinda reminds me of richard thompson.
Xeric wrote:
That's debatable. I don't know where McMurtry the younger got his literary talent, but it SO FAR exceeds his father's that one doubts any connection at all. . . .
If his father is Larry McMurtry then you have very poor taste. One of the best, if not the best, writters in recent times.
sans wrote:
. . . inherited, I suppose from his father who is a 9 out of 10 in his field.
That's debatable. I don't know where McMurtry the younger got his literary talent, but it SO FAR exceeds his father's that one doubts any connection at all. . . .
dmax wrote:
It's rare to hear him repeat lines verbatim - he likes to say them again with slight variations, making different points each time. Brilliant.
Have you ever heard "Choctaw Bingo"? That song makes you see, hear, feel and experience a bunch of eccentric Texans at a family reunion...while repeating the same driving beat/melody. It kicks butt!
Man I LOVE this McMurtry song! "Explain to me the rules of love Tell me what I'm so guilty of.. I didn't know that I was blind. Repeat it real slow so I get it this time..." This album is one of my very favorites. I'm afraid to buy more from him and be let down... His monotonous voice belies the incredible work that he puts into his songs. It's rare to hear him repeat lines verbatim - he likes to say them again with slight variations, making different points each time. Brilliant.
7... One of the more tolerable of the so-called "literary" singer-songwriters. His monochromatic voice always plays nicely against some dynamic storytelling, inherited, I suppose from his father who is a 9 out of 10 in his field.