Fresh off the holiday season, James McMurtry has released a new song about the political differences that exist within many families and can be difficult to leave on the back burner when everyone gets together. “State of the Union” touches specifically on the narrator’s own politically-torn family, but the bigger message — people struggling to understand each other’s differing views on all things from racial relations, to guns, to climate change — applies to our country as a whole.
While the narrator may have a “snowflake’s” outlook on life, his family is on the other side of the spectrum. McMurtry opens the song with a verse about a brother who dislikes minorities, complaining that it’s “tough to be white,” and a religious sister who falls in line with their brother on most political issues. The family strife comes to head in the second verse, during a trip to Golden Corral, as the narrator’s brother questions whether he thinks he’s better than the rest of the family.
In the chorus, McMurtry gets right to the point about the larger impacts of such differences, singing, “It’s the state of the union, I guess / We’re all in a hell of a mess / We’re all in the family, the cursed and blessed / It’s the state of the union, I guess.” In the end, McMurtry doesn’t comment on his own political affiliation, but he does offer some subtle advice: Focus on less-controversial topics while sitting around the holiday table. This may be a good strategy for dealing with all aspects of differing opinions in the current political climate.
Readers can listen to “State of the Union” below or download it for free from JamesMcMurtry.com. McMurtry is currently on the road with Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, on a tour that kicked off on Jan. 4.
Listen to James McMurtry, “State of the Union”:
See Photos From Jason Isbell’s 2017 Tour