I've featured the work of James McMurtry before on Music Fridays.
Today's song takes an acerbic look at Thanksgiving. And as I stated when I featured Choctaw Bingo last year, "Dark realism rarely sells."
"Holiday" is certainly dark and realistic, and I've provided the lyrics below the video.
Holiday by James McMurtry
The in-laws are waiting; the games have begun.
The cell phone keeps ringing: “Just don’t answer it hon.”
The whole thing’s arranged just to aggravate Dad.
And it’s amateur day on the old super slab.
The kids are strapped down like a half load of pipe,
All safe in their car seats they fuss and they gripe.
Well, you can’t hardly blame ‘em.
It must be a bitch, counting the crosses off down in the ditch.
This one’s got flowers, this one’s got a wreath,
This one’s got a name painted down underneath.
Was the road all iced up, were they going too fast?
Here’s five in a circle left from the last holiday.
There’s a three-trailer rig just a throwin’ up spray,
Not legal to run on this kind of a day.
But god damn the smokies and the four wheelers too.
Stay offa my bumpers, or the same goes for you.
Because they'll be none for him,
He that wants it the most
As he hauls it on out to the Oregon coast.
No turkey, no gravy, no Zinfandel wine,
You stay off to the right, and we’ll get along fine.
He’s missing the football, missing the fun.
He’d play with the grandkids, but he’s off on a run.
And some hat’s on the radio singing his song.
But it don’t make a damn--
He’s in for a long holiday.
Now granny she’s yelling,
She’s ready to eat.
She’s havin’ conniptions
‘Cause they won’t take their seats.
But she’s got ‘em all gathered now under one roof.
With her camcorder loaded,
She’s gonna get proof.
But do you have to wear that,
Well I just don’t see why,
Please pass the potatoes,
Aw eat shit and die,
Did you hear about Ellen, she’s leaving, you know
How ‘bout those Packers, think it’ll snow?
And the minute it’s over they’ll scatter like quail
Off down the freeway in the teeth of a gale.
Silent and shattered and numb to the core,
They count themselves lucky
They got through one more holiday.
The highway patrolman,
He stands in the rain.
He just lets it run down to soften the stain
Of the blood on his pant leg
From working that wreck.
And he won’t forget it
In time for the next holiday.
Departing Chicago at 9:52
In clean desert camo, all baggy and loose,
Sits an Iowa Guardsman alone by the gate.
The place sure looked different in 1968.
When he traveled with mom, first time on a plane,
To visit some kin, he’s forgotten their names,
But he remembers the soldiers, still in their teens
In their spit polished shoes and their pressed army greens,
With the creases so sharp, and their faces so smooth,
But their eyes looked so heavy, he wondered how they could move.
And now he’s got that same look, like his insides are black.
He’s in his mid-forties, and he has to go back.
And he can’t even smoke while he waits for his plane.
The uniform’s different, but the mission remains:
To do like they tell you, don’t make a fuss,
Why’s not an issue, so don’t think too much,
You just do what you have to, shut up and drive.
If you come apart later, well at least you’re alive.
You can get you some help, you can deal with it then,
And life will be better ‘til it happens again
‘Cause there’s something inside us that won’t let us be.
It stalks through our days ‘til it’s too dark to see.
And it’s damn near as deadly as Texans on ice.
Lord don’t they beat all.
Y’all have a nice holiday