You know there have been so many great songs, but I have to say the one that, for me, the one that captures America, the American landscape–the America that slid from great big party to great depression in the past decade–has got to be James McMurtry’s :”Choctaw Bingo”.
You probably haven’t heard it but you should. it’s on a album called “James McMurtry: Best of the Sugar Hill Years”
J.M., you may or may not know, is the son of Larry McMurtry, author among other works of Lonesome Dove. His son’s got his way with words and a great lyrical gift as well. And an outlaw country–Waylon, Willie and the boys–attitude. I could have named his beautiful melancholy romantic ballad “Lights of Cheyenne” as best song, but “Choctaw Bingo” is not only memorable, it’s prophetic: It captured the beginning of the subprime crisis in an epic song about a unforgettable family reunion which managed to make a crazed old uncle’s crystal meth-making a metaphor for the fevered real estate speculation on steroids that brought us low. Still there’s a kind of good natured tragic/comic spirit to the song that makes you lay it over and over when you find it on a juke box in a Texas bar.
If you want to read the half-serious case I made for making “Choctaw Bingo” our new national anthem check this out.
Meanwhile I’d like to hear your nominations for Song of the Decade.