James McMurtry’s Timeless Classic, “Jackie” and More: A Comprehensive Guide to His Music

When it comes to authentic and intimate songwriting, few artists hold a candle to James McMurtry. An acclaimed American singer-songwriter, McMurtry has developed a cult following over the years, captivating listeners with his piercing insights and evocative storytelling. One of his most iconic tracks is the haunting ballad “Jackie,” which continues to resonate with fans old and new.

But who is James McMurtry, and what makes his music so special? In this post, we’ll explore the life and career of this talented musician, diving deep into his discography, touring history, and more. We’ll also answer important questions such as “What genre is James McMurtry?” and “Who wrote the song Levelland?” so you can get a comprehensive understanding of his work.

So sit back, relax, and get ready to embark on a journey through the work of one of America’s most gifted musicians. Whether you’re a die-hard fan or a newcomer to McMurtry’s music, there’s plenty to discover and enjoy in this guide. So let’s dive into the world of James McMurtry and explore the meaning and magic of his timeless classic, “Jackie.”

What Genre is James McMurtry?

James McMurtry’s music cannot be confined to a single genre since it borrows from a wide range of musical styles. However, he is generally classified as a singer-songwriter who blends folk, rock, and country genres in his music. Here are some key takeaways to get a better grasp of James McMurtry’s music:


  • James McMurtry’s music is often compared to that of folk music legends such as Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie.
  • His lyrics are usually narrative and descriptive, and he addresses social and political issues in his songs.
  • His songwriting style is characterized by his ability to weave together stories with poignant and vivid imagery, creating an emotional connection with the listener.


  • McMurtry’s music often features distorted guitar riffs, which are reminiscent of classic rock bands such as The Rolling Stones.
  • His live shows are also high-energy and electric, with McMurtry playing his guitar with incredible intensity.


  • Although McMurtry’s music is not pure country, he incorporates elements of the genre in his songs.
  • He uses traditional country instrumentation such as acoustic guitar, fiddle, and harmonica.
  • His tonal inflections also resemble those of country music legends such as Johnny Cash and Hank Williams.

James McMurtry’s music is a unique blend of folk, rock, and country. He has been labeled as a singer-songwriter; however, his music cannot be reduced to a single genre. By incorporating elements of different genres in his music, McMurtry creates a sound that is entirely his own.

Who wrote the song Levelland?

If you’re a fan of James McMurtry, then you’ve probably heard the song “Levelland” before. It’s a fan favorite and one that many people know all the words to. But do you know who actually wrote the song?

The songwriter behind “Levelland”

“Levelland” was actually written by James McMurtry himself! McMurtry is known for his excellent songwriting skills, and “Levelland” is no exception. The song tells the story of life in the small town of Levelland, Texas, and the struggles that people there face on a daily basis.

What inspired the song?

Like many of McMurtry’s songs, “Levelland” is based on real-life experiences. McMurtry grew up in Texas, and he spent a lot of time in small towns like Levelland. He saw firsthand the struggles that people in these towns faced, and he was inspired to write a song about it.

What are some of the lyrics?

If you’re not familiar with “Levelland,” here are a few of the lyrics to give you an idea of what the song is about:

  • “There’s a girl in a truck in a bikini, waiting on a train
    Laughing at the rain, dime store rings and a paperback romance
    Novel tucked under her arm, just a thin white cotton dress
    Riding down Main Street, thought I saw her waving
    But it might have been one of those flags, they’re always changing”

  • “Flashing by on the overpass, riddled by graffiti
    Laughing at the tough times, they can’t seem to defeat me
    I’m the king of all I survey, from the minute that I get my pay
    To the highway where I take my scars, I’m not goin’ very far”

  • “And it’s a restless world, old buddy
    I just can’t seem to get me enough”

“Levelland” is one of James McMurtry’s most popular songs, and it’s easy to see why. The song’s lyrics are powerful, and they paint a picture of life in a small town. If you haven’t heard “Levelland” yet, be sure to give it a listen. You won’t be disappointed!