26 September 2007

Enthusiasms (11) ~ Steve Earle

This evening on the way home I stopped off at The Record Archive to buy the new CD from Steve Earle as a belated birthday present for my co-conspirator Susan. The disc ~ Washington Square Serenade ~ marks a move from Nashville to NYC. Judging from the pictures, Steve is compensating on his chin for what is receding on the crown; beyond that the music is realy quite fine. That is what counts. As Susan says, it is a good sign when you like the first track. The rest are good too. There is nothing here perhaps to rival, say, "Copperhead Road" or "Hardcore Troubador" or "You're Still Standing There." But none of us are young anymore. That is OK and it is early to judge for certain. Earle tacks back and forth between songs of struggle and hardship and songs of love and longing more or less effortlessly. That ~ in addition to his obvious, wonderful facility with lyrics ~has always been one of his strengths. On this disc Earle wrote (or co-wrote) all the tunes with the exception of this Tom Waits cover:

Way Down in the Hole

When you walk through the garden
you gotta watch your back.
Well I beg your pardon
walk the straight and narrow track.
If you walk with Jesus
he's gonna save your soul.
You gotta keep the devil
way down in the hole.

He's got the fire and the fury
at his command.
Well you don't have to worry
if you hold on to Jesus hand.
We'll all be safe from Satan
when the thunder rolls.
Just gotta help me keep the devil
way down in the hole.

All the angels sing about Jesus' mighty sword
and they'll shield you with their wings
and keep you close to the lord.
Don't pay heed to temptation
for his hands are so cold.
You gotta help me keep the devil
way down in the hole.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Jim,
Reading that song I suddenly had it playing in my head, it's the theme song on the excellent HBO show The Wire. It's been performed by different musicians for each season and (according to Wikipedia) Steve Earle is doing it for the upcoming season 5. And it seems he's been in the show too, from Wikipedia again: "Earle appeared as a recovering drug addict named Walon in two episodes of the first season the HBO series The Wire. He addresses a 12-step-type meeting with an account of how he lost everything to addiction:'I pawned my bike, my pickup truck, a national steel guitar, lost a good wife, a bad girlfriend, and the respect of anyone who ever lent me money.' He has reprised the role occasionally in subsequent seasons."
Just a bit of trivia for you. Thanks for bringing him to my attention, I'll look into his music.
all the best,

27 September, 2007 02:45  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I did not know the bit of trivia noted by Michelle, but I did get the Tom Waits song playing in my head. I will check out the Steve Earle album also.

27 September, 2007 05:34  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Thanks for the tip. I've always liked Earle. He's had an interesting life. Of his albums, my favorite might be his collaboration with Del McCoury, The Mountain. It has a song called Harlan Man of which I was often reminded reading your Solidarity series.

Thanks to Michelle also. I remember Waylon. I assume you're familiar with The Wire, but if not, you might want to check it out. Not an exaggeration to say the best thing on television.



27 September, 2007 08:00  
Blogger Unknown said...

I had an all-Steve Earle playlist running at the gym this afternoon, and it occurred to me that he hadn't had a new album in a couple of years. So this is good news, thanks.

27 September, 2007 20:12  

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