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We Can't Make It Here
by James McMurtry

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 © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.

Lyrics Licensed & Provided by LyricFind
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Comments from YouTube:

Joshua Fagan

Relevant under Bush, relevant under Obama, relevant under Trump, and it will probably still be relevant under whoever comes next.

joseph bialobreski

@22 and Xi, that was funny, very flowery, but mostly funny.

joseph bialobreski

@x a, somehow it's always the poor and/or powerless who are responsible for the flaws in the United States, right? Bet you can't figure out how your theory makes no sense.

joseph bialobreski

@Janet Lynch, none the less, he did not make the middle class more numerous or robust and the wealth kept running uphill and wages remained stagnant at best.


Eugene Stoner was a genius.
Live free or die....

Ben Melman

@Janet Lynch Right, quite right. You're not wrong. Like I say, it's the GOP that is skull-fucking us 'til our pores bleed. And you don't fight their bullshit with kindness and tact. You grow a pair of balls and fight back.

Where are the leaders in the Democratic Party? Aside from Warren (bless her) and Sanders (who's not even an ACTUAL member of the party), I see nothing but pushovers in the Democratic Party's leadership; and hateful bullies in the Republican Party, from top to bottom. How do you fight back against a bully? Kindness? Pfft.

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Tyler Peter

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

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

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

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