Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Matt Oliver, Mastered by Sam Patlove
We have a tendency to suggest and believe that time flies and there are days when this is abundantly true. There are other days - a hefty majority of our days - when it is not. We seem to fly right through the really great ones, looking back over our shoulders just to see the red or black blur of them streak away from us, into the fallen ether, with everything else that's come and gone forever. We feel the plodding and full breadth of our years in the way that makes them feel like sentences, as if we were being unfairly punished for our needless ways and our empty trappings. We aren't getting out of here or through here, for that matter, so easily. We'll be stopped and we'll be accosted countless times, making it seem like we're out there on a log-jammed Texas highway for hours and hours, at two in the morning, unaware that your time's being stolen from you thanks to a sleepy trucker who fell asleep at the wheel, miles ahead of you, sadly splashing a load of cattle all over the road. It's every part of that story that applies to you and to me - to all of us - for we sense it in those moments, the ways that our time is used up and realize the intense disjointedness and fascinating connection of what time spent, time enjoyed or time lost actually feels like. Austin singer and songwriter James McMurtry is a craftsman when it comes to dissecting the ways that time works on us and the ways that we work with our time. The way he takes with his words and the easy guidance he gives them in songs like "No More Buffalo," suggest that we're listening to someone who believes in the little things, but also believes that some of those little things are the ones that are going to put us in the ground. We're enlivened by them and damned by them, smitten by their sparkles and suckers for their greater insignificance, though we attribute it to them anyway. Sometimes we forget our place in things. We forget how easy - even when it's all very hard and challenging - everything we do is in a day. We forget that there are so many other people out there and we forget how much countryside we've never seen and might never see in our lifetime. All of these things play into the stories that McMurtry writes. They are songs of endless relevance and even more endless searching, as if there were absolutely no ways that anything could be determined here and now. We're all still years away from solving or being anything. We can watch things crumble around us - our relationships, our bodies, our families, our lives on the whole - and yet, there's little to be determined from any of that yet, because, as McMurtry seems to suggest in the way he sings and in the very things that he says when he does so, this is the longest road you're ever going to know. It's the longest one that you're ever going to be on and it's going to feel like an eternity.