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Humans of UMass Lowell: James McNulty

(Photo courtesy of: Steven O’Hara) “James McNulty is a senior with a love for music.”

Steven O’Hara
Connector Editor

Music, his guitar and books are all passions that make up James McNulty, an English Literature and Spanish major studying at UMass Lowell. “[P]laying music,” McNulty said, when asked about what accomplishment in life he is most proud of. “Sticking with that for a long time—I think I’ve been playing for eight years now. I’m happy that I’ve stuck with that.”

For McNulty, music is not just a hobby: it is a passion. Being a part of WUML and a guitarist in a Lowell born band called Neck Dive, is part of a bigger ambition: “Being remembered for doing something beneficial for society, in some way, shape or form…[like] music.”

His favorite music genre is classic rock, but he said he is not afraid to listen to different genres, like country. He is a fan of Elizabeth Cotton, for example. “She’s pretty good if you’re ever in the mood for walking down a dirt road music, if you ever find yourself in that situation. I did this summer when I was in North Carolina—the state that she’s from —and I bumped to some Elizabeth Cotton,” McNulty said.

Music has even influenced his decision in what major to pursue for college. Deciding to become an English literature major stemmed from his love of music. “My thought process is that if I became an English major it would help me write better songs. I’ve also had time to explore the music scene and have an uninfluenced experience of it,” McNulty said.

However, McNulty was not always on this path. “I started with environmental engineering, but kind of decided that the environment is not my problem, and it’s not my job to pick up other people’s trash,” he said.

Although he has stepped away from this major, he is still a big advocate for the environment, especially in terms of limiting climate change.

McNulty has also recently discovered new passions and interests. “I’m in the [French New Wave film class], so those [movies] have been really good. They’re…very bleak sometimes, but I think it’s really interesting to get a non-American view on movies, and I think it’s a little more true to real life than what you would see normally,” he said.

His all time favorite movie outside of that genre is “Space Odyssey: 2001.”

Though constantly reading and studying books for school, McNulty does not have a favorite. “It’s always changing,” he said.

However, he does have a few at the top of his list. “’Slaughterhouse-Five’ and anything by Kurt Vonnegut is pretty classic. But, this summer I read ‘This Side of Paradise’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald and also this book called ‘Trouble Boys’, and it was about one of my favorite bands and it told their story,” McNulty said.

Part of his own story is his family, particularly his dad, who he counts as a big influence. “[He’s] helped me realize that polar opposites can coexist, and that’s that. And, it’s important to find an equilibrium in life, and not avoid the extremes—those are pretty terrible,” he said.

McNulty believes there is one important thing that everyone should know about him:

“My cat’s really cute.”

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