Outskirts, 2016

Just found out James McMurtry will be in Wisconsin Dells and Milwaukee this weekend. If you’re anywhere near, I hope you’ll see him. It’s impossible for me to overstate the connection between Population: 485 and Too Long in the Wasteland. Night after night I sat up into the wee hours, hitting the keyboard with those songs playing over and over. In particular I remember trying to write a scene that would recreate the feel of driving into my hometown late at night; I hacked and cut and pummeled and polished that passage all night long, with “Outskirts” playing on single-song repeat until dawn. We’ve both put on a lot of miles since those days. I’ve written many more books, he’s written many more songs. But that book up there in the photograph changed my life. And James McMurtry’s music changed that book.

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