A single voice can send a powerful message - and that’s just what Jim James did at the Tiny Desk, with just his voice and an acoustic guitar. His lead-off song, “I’m Amazed,” comes from My Morning Jacket’s 2008 album Evil Urges. It’s a prophetic song in many ways - it speaks not only of a divided nation and the need for justice but also to the beauty in the life and plight of others. It’s something Jim James would find greater appreciation for after he fell from a stage at a My Morning Jacket concert, just three days before Evil Urges was to be released, sustaining life-threatening injuries. It would be a life-changing event and the inspiration for his first solo album years later, in 2013, Regions of Light and Sound of God.
Jim James’ second song at the Tiny Desk, “Same Old Lie,” comes from an album he released just days before the 2016 Presidential election. The lyrics take on a deeper meaning now, just days before the 2018 elections. “It’s the same old lie you been reading about / Bleeding out - now who’s getting cheated out? / You best believe it’s the silent majority / If you don’t vote it’s on you, not me.”
His closing tune, in what I think of as a purposeful trilogy for these political times, is from two albums he’s released this year, Uniform Distortion and Uniform Clarity. The albums contain the same songs, performed with his blistering electric guitar on one and on the other, as here, acoustically. “Over and Over” is perfectly suited for “The Future of Voting 2018” tour he’s embarked on. After 20-some odd years of putting out music, Jim James is full of fervor and compassion for others as he sings, “How can we make / The same mistakes / and still carry on / Living the same we did yesterday / Have we learned nothing at all?”
- “I’m Amazed”
- “Same Old Lie”
- “Over and Over”
Producers: Bob Boilen, Morgan Noelle Smith; Creative Director: Bob Boilen; Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Videographers: Morgan Noelle Smith, Kaylee Domzalski; Editor: Kaylee Domzalski; Production Assistant: Brie Martin; Photo: Madeleine Cook/NPR