Ron Rosenbaum, Writer

December 23, 2009

My Candidate for Song of the Decade. Yours?

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 9:55 am

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.



  1. Two favorite of my favorites

    Radiohead – Everything in its Right Place
    Dylan – Mississippi

    I’m surprised being the Dylan fan you are that you don’t even give him a mention considering its his best decade since the 70’s… the added weight of releasing Love and Theft 9/11/01… but man, Love and Theft, Modern Times, Together Through Life.. really Ron, nothing?

    Comment by bryan — December 23, 2009 @ 12:25 pm | Reply

  2. a few more…

    Tom Waits – Misery is the River of the World
    – Sins of My Father
    Frank Black – Horrible Day
    – When Will Happiness Find Me Again

    Comment by bryan — December 23, 2009 @ 12:44 pm | Reply

  3. That is a great choice.

    If I had to name just one, it would be “Ludlow 6:18” by Adam Marsland and Cockeyed Ghost. It’s pretty much everything that is great about pop music, with an undertone of time passing that’s worthy of the Greek Anthology: “…Ebb and flow / Are those the only things to which I can belong / I can capture them in moments / But I can’t stay there too long / All that lies behind me now or ahead, or I could be wrong / Maybe in the end that’s all my life will mean / The mise en scene of Ludlow 6:18…” A really brilliant song. And a car song!

    For something recorded earlier but only released in the last decade, I’d add Dylan’s “Red River Shore,” too. The last verse is amazing: “Now I heard of a guy who lived a long time ago / A man full of sorrow and strife / That if someone around him died and was dead / He knew how to bring ’em on back to life / Well, I don’t know what kind of language he used / Or if they do that kind of thing anymore / Sometimes I think nobody ever saw me here at all / Except the girl from the Red River shore.” Another great one.

    And then “Mississippi,” “High Water (For Charley Patton),” “Workingman’s Blues #2,” “Huck’s Tune,” “This Dream of You”… Bob’s had a pretty good decade.

    Comment by Fred Mecklenburg — December 23, 2009 @ 2:51 pm | Reply

  4. I don’t know if anyone here has seen Before Sunrise. Remember The Waltz? What a beautiful little song. It’s on youtube:

    Comment by Tim Rinaldi — December 23, 2009 @ 3:15 pm | Reply

  5. correction: Before Sunset

    Comment by Tim Rinaldi — December 23, 2009 @ 3:16 pm | Reply

  6. “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?”

    Comment by charlie finch — December 24, 2009 @ 7:17 am | Reply

  7. Tim… great call. I think that is one of the best American films of the past 20 years.

    Comment by Bryan — December 24, 2009 @ 9:40 am | Reply

  8. Eva Cassidy’s emergence, even though she died in obscurity in 1996, was the musical event of the decade. Though all her songs are covers, she sings them as if she wrote them. Check out “Over the Rainbow”, which she makes as powerful an anthem of hope and promise as “We Shall Overcome”

    Comment by charlie finch — December 24, 2009 @ 1:17 pm | Reply

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