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We Can't Make It Here
James McMurtry Lyrics


There's a Vietnam Vet with a cardboard sign
Sitting there by the left turn line
The flag on his wheelchair flapping in the breeze
One leg missing and both hands free

No one?s paying much mind to him
The V.A. budget?s just stretched so thin
And now there's more coming back from the Mideast war
We can't make it here anymore

And that big ol? building was the textile mill
That fed our kids and it paid our bills
But they turned us out and they closed the doors
'Cause we can't make it here anymore

You see those pallets piled up on the loading dock
They're just gonna sit there ?til they rot
?Cause there's nothing to ship, nothing to pack
Just busted concrete and rusted tracks

Empty storefronts around the square
There's a needle in the gutter and glass everywhere
You don't come down here unless you're looking to score
We can't make it here anymore

The bar?s still open but man it?s slow
The tip jar?s light and the register?s low
The bartender don't have much to say
The regular crowd gets thinner each day

Some have maxed out all their credit cards
Some are working two jobs and living in cars
Minimum wage won't pay for a roof, won't pay for a drink
If you gotta have proof just try it yourself Mr. C.E.O.
See how far 5.15 an hour will go
Take a part time job at one your stores
I bet you can't make it here anymore

And there's a high school girl with a bourgeois dream
Just like the pictures in the magazine
She found on the floor of the laundromat
A woman with kids can forget all that

If she comes up pregnant what'll she do
Forget the career and forget about school
Can she live on faith? Live on hope?
High on Jesus or hooked on dope
When it?s way too late to just say no
You can't make it here anymore

Now I'm stocking shirts in the Wal-Mart store
Just like the ones we made before
?Cept this one came from Singapore
I guess we can't make it here anymore

Should I hate a people for the shade of their skin
Or the shape of their eyes or the shape I'm in
Should I hate ?em for having our jobs today
No I hate the men sent the jobs away

I can see them all now, they haunt my dreams
All lily white and squeaky clean
They've never known want, they'll never know need
Their shit don't stink and their kids won't bleed
Their kids won't bleed in their damn little war
And we can't make it here anymore

Will I work for food, will I die for oil
Will kill for power and to us the spoils
The billionaires get to pay less tax
The working poor get to fall through the cracks

So let ?em eat jellybeans let ?em eat cake
Let ?em eat shit, whatever it takes
They can join the Air Force or join the Corps
If they can't make it here anymore

So that's how it is, that's what we got
If the president wants to admit it or not
You can read it in the paper, read it on the wall
Hear it on the wind if you're listening at all
Get out of that limo, look us in the eye
Call us on the cell phone tell us all why

In Dayton Ohio or Portland Maine
Or a cotton gin out on the great high plains
That's done closed down along with the school
And the hospital and the swimming pool

Dust devils dance in the noonday heat
There's rats in the alley and trash in the street
Gang graffiti on a boxcar door
We can't make it here anymore

Lyrics © O/B/O APRA AMCOS
Written by: JAMES MCMURTRY

Lyrics Licensed & Provided by LyricFind
To comment on specific lyrics, highlight them
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bob often

We Can't Make It Here
Song by James McMurtry
Lyrics

There's a Vietnam vet with a cardboard sign
Sitting there by the left turn line
The flag on his wheelchair flapping in the breeze
One leg missing and both hands free

No one's paying much mind to him
The V.A. budget's just stretched so thin
And now there' s more coming back from the Mideast war
We can't make it here anymore

And that big ol' building was the textile mill
That fed our kids and it paid our bills
But they turned us out and they closed the doors
'Cause we can' t make it here anymore

You see those pallets piled up on the loading dock
They're just gonna sit there 'til they rot
'Cause there's nothing to ship, nothing to pack
Just busted concrete and rusted tracks

Empty storefronts around the square
There's a needle in the gutter and glass everywhere
You don't come down here unless you're looking to score
We can't make it here anymore

The bar's still open but man it' s slow
The tip jar's light and the register' s low
The bartender don't have much to say
The regular crowd gets thinner each day

Some have maxed out all their credit cards
Some are working two jobs and living in cars
Minimum wage won't pay for a roof, won't pay for a drink
If you gotta have proof just try it yourself, Mr. CEO
See how far $5.15 an hour will go
Take a part time job at one your stores
I bet you can't make it here anymore

There's a high school girl with a bourgeois dream
Just like the pictures in the magazine
She found on the floor of the laundromat
A woman with kids can forget all that
If she comes up pregnant what'll she do
Forget the career and forget about school
Can she live on faith? Live on hope?
High on Jesus or hooked on dope
When it's way too late to just say no
You can't make it here anymore

Now I'm stocking shirts in the Wal-Mart store
Just like the ones we made before
'Cept this one came from Singapore
I guess we can't make it here anymore

Should I hate a people for the shade of their skin
Or the shape of their eyes or the shape I'm in
Should I hate 'em for having our jobs today
No, I hate the men sent the jobs away

I can see them all now, they haunt my dreams
All lily white and squeaky clean
They've never known want, they'll never know need
Their shit don't stink and their kids won't bleed
Their kids won't bleed in their damn little war
And we can't make it here anymore

Will work for food, will die for oil
Will kill for power, and to us the spoils
The billionaires get to pay less tax
The working poor get to fall through the cracks

So let 'em eat jellybeans let 'em eat cake
Let 'em eat shit, whatever it takes
They can join the Air Force or join the Corps
If they can't make it here anymore

So that's how it is, that's what we got
If the president wants to admit it or not
You can read it in the paper, read it on the wall
Hear it on the wind if you're listening at all
Get out of that limo, look us in the eye
Call us on the cell phone, tell us all why

In Dayton, Ohio or Portland, Maine
Or a cotton gin out on the great high plains
That's done closed down, along with the school
And the hospital, and the swimming pool

Dust devils dance in the noonday heat
There's rats in the alley and trash in the street
Gang graffiti on a boxcar door
We can't make it here anymore


Songwriters: James Mcmurtry

We Can't Make It Here lyrics © Short Trip Music



city zen

There's a Vietnam Vet with a cardboard sign
Sitting there by the left turn line
The flag on his wheelchair flapping in the breeze
One leg missing and both hands free
No one?s paying much mind to him
The V.A. budget?s just stretched so thin
And now there's more coming back from the Mideast war
We can't make it here anymore
And that big ol? building was the textile mill
That fed our kids and it paid our bills
But they turned us out and they closed the doors
'Cause we can't make it here anymore
You see those pallets piled up on the loading dock
They're just gonna sit there ?til they rot
?Cause there's nothing to ship, nothing to pack
Just busted concrete and rusted tracks
Empty storefronts around the square
There's a needle in the gutter and glass everywhere
You don't come down here unless you're looking to score
We can't make it here anymore
The bar?s still open but man it?s slow
The tip jar?s light and the register?s low
The bartender don't have much to say
The regular crowd gets thinner each day
Some have maxed out all their credit cards
Some are working two jobs and living in cars
Minimum wage won't pay for a roof, won't pay for a drink
If you gotta have proof just try it yourself Mr. C.E.O.
See how far 5.15 an hour will go
Take a part time job at one your stores
I bet you can't make it here anymore
And there's a high school girl with a bourgeois dream
Just like the pictures in the magazine
She found on the floor of the laundromat
A woman with kids can forget all that
If she comes up pregnant what'll she do
Forget the career and forget about school
Can she live on faith? Live on hope?
High on Jesus or hooked on dope
When it?s way too late to just say no
You can't make it here anymore
Now I'm stocking shirts in the Wal-Mart store
Just like the ones we made before
?Cept this one came from Singapore
I guess we can't make it here anymore
Should I hate a people for the shade of their skin
Or the shape of their eyes or the shape I'm in
Should I hate ?em for having our jobs today
No I hate the men sent the jobs away
I can see them all now, they haunt my dreams
All lily white and squeaky clean
They've never known want, they'll never know need
Their shit don't stink and their kids won't bleed
Their kids won't bleed in their damn little war
And we can't make it here anymore
Will I work for food, will I die for oil
Will kill for power and to us the spoils
The billionaires get to pay less tax
The working poor get to fall through the cracks
So let ?em eat jellybeans let ?em eat cake
Let ?em eat shit, whatever it takes
They can join the Air Force or join the Corps
If they can't make it here anymore
So that's how it is, that's what we got
If the president wants to admit it or not
You can read it in the paper, read it on the wall
Hear it on the wind if you're listening at all
Get out of that limo, look us in the eye
Call us on the cell phone tell us all why
In Dayton Ohio or Portland Maine
Or a cotton gin out on the great high plains
That's done closed down along with the school
And the hospital and the swimming pool
Dust devils dance in the noonday heat
There's rats in the alley and trash in the street
Gang graffiti on a boxcar door
We can't make it here anymore



All comments from YouTube:

Charles Lee

James McMurtry’s writing and guitar skills are grossly under-rated.

“I started writing this song during the Clinton Administration and finished during Bush. Everyone thinks it’s anti-Bush, but it’s really anti-outsourcing, which took off under Clinton. The next two Administrations didn’t do anything about it so it’s still relevant.” - James McMurtry, Acoustic Guitar Magazine, Aug 26, 2016

Libby Pritchett

Outsourcing started way before Clinton. Started in the early seventies

Ryan White

Thank you for sharing.

Ben Melman

He's sharp as a tack. There aren't too many truth-tellers left in the music industry anymore; but James gets it.

mark drane

I pray this wonderful song becomes irrelevant

MiM Musicians in Mourning

It applies to all the monsters that occupy the seats of power, yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

1 More Replies...

Tyler Peter

There’s so much truth packed into this 7 minutes. I challenge anyone to argue with any part of this song.

John Nesbitt

I love this guy. He really paints pictures with his music.

Ray 1

His voice : Lou Reed in his best days ( Velvet Underground , the 70's ) and that's a great compliment because I love that kind of voice and singing . Further ; his songs and lyrics are great , love his guitar sound and playing . This is a great musician !!

Sean O'Neil

Lou Reed NEVER sounded good, always like a tone-deaf frog trying to sing in a human voice. The strumming guitar and simple bass/drums were the VU strong points, not Louis's voice. But I realize, it's a hipster thing to point to VU as pivotal, influential and stellar, so Louis's "skills" have to be oversold, as with anyone from Louis's religion.

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