January 17: Steve Earle was born in 1955

“In a perfect world, Steve Earle would run Nashville.”
– Todd Snider

“If I can get me out of the way, I can do anything”
– Steve Earle

“I don’t really think in terms of obstacles. My biggest obstacle is always myself.”
~Steve Earle

All we do as songwriters is rewrite the songs that have impressed us till we find our own voice. It’s part of learning the craft.
~Steve Earle

One of our  greatest musical heroes

Fort Worth Blues:

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Classic concert: Steve Earle To Hell and Back (1996)

Steve Earle beat the odds, and he knows it. “I was the ultimate functional heroin addict for a number of years,” he says, introducing himself to a MTV audience that might not be intimately familiar with his life story and ferocious brand of country-rock music. “I got clean because I got locked up. If that hadn’t happened, I would have died. I just made my first album straight this year.”

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On June 25, 1996, as part of a court order, Steve Earle performed a live concert for prison inmates at Tennessee’s Cold Creek Correctional Facility where Earle was incarcerated in 1994. The concert entitled To Hell and Back aired on MTV on August 17, 1996. Steve reunited with his backing group the Dukes for the concert, and it was an incredible show.

Earle gives the performance of a lifetime  “This ain’t gonna be a beach party,” he says in front of an appreciative audience of convicts who had just endured two days in a prison-wide lockdown.
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Classic documentary: Heartworn Highways – the best music documentary ever made!

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The best music documentary ever made: Heartworn Highways

For it is just that, the best documentary about music I have ever seen! It looks like a home movie, you feel like you get insight into a world long gone and you feel like looking into a world just for the invited.

It is up on YouTube , so catch it before it gets taken down (or better, buy yourself a copy so you can see it as often as you want).

Heartworn Highways is made by James Szalapski whose vision captured some of the founders of the Outlaw Country  and Singer/Songwriter movement in Texas and Tennessee in the last weeks of 1975 and the first weeks of 1976. The film was not released theatrically until 1981.

Highlights for me: The visit to Townes Van Zandt’s caravan and the Christmas party at Guy and Susanna Clark (especially Steve Earle singing Mercenary Song).

Heartworn Highways (full movie):

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Classic TV: Townes Van Zandt tribute at Austin City Limits 1997

Tribute to Townes Van Zandt
Austin City Limits
Recorded in December 7, 1997.

Townes Van Zandt, was an American singer songwriter. He is widely held in high regard for his poetic, often heroically sad songs. In 1983, six years after Emmylou Harris had first popularized it, Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard covered his song “Pancho and Lefty”, scoring a number one hit on the Billboard country music charts. Much of his life was spent touring various dive bars, often living in cheap motel rooms and backwoods cabins. For much of the 1970s, he lived in a simple shack without electricity or a phone.

He suffered from a series of drug addictions, alcoholism, and the psychiatric diagnosis bipolar disorder. When he was young, the now discredited insulin shock therapy erased much of his long-term memory. Continue reading “Classic TV: Townes Van Zandt tribute at Austin City Limits 1997”

July 30: Johnny Cash recorded “Folsom Prison Blues” in 1955

Folsom Prison looms large in Johnny Cash’s legacy, providing the setting for perhaps his definitive song and the location for his definitive album, At Folsom Prison. The ideal blend of mythmaking and gritty reality, At Folsom Prison is the moment when Cash turned into the towering Man in Black, a haunted troubadour singing songs of crime, conflicted conscience, and jail.
~Stephen Thomas Erlewine (allmusic.com)

Wikipedia:

Single by Johnny Cash
B-side So Doggone Lonesome
Released December 15, 1955
April 1968 (re-recording)
Format 7″ single
Recorded July 30, 1955Sun StudioMemphis, Tennessee
Genre Rockabilly, country blues, rock and roll
Length 2:50
Label Sun
Songwriter Johnny Cash
Producer Sam Phillips

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Great New Album from Steve Earle – So You Wannabe an Outlaw

“There’s nothing ‘retro’ about this record,” Earle says. “I’m just acknowledging where I’m coming from.” So You Wannabe an Outlaw is the first recording he has made in Austin, TX. Earle has lived in New York City for the past decade. “Look, I’m always gonna be a Texan, no matter what I do,” he says. “And I’m always going to be somebody who learned their craft in Nashville. It’s who I am.”
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For me this is Steve Earle´s best album since Transcendental Blues (June 6, 2000). Backed by his band The Dukes (guitarist Chris Masterson, fiddle player Eleanor Whitmore, bassist Kelly Looney, and new members drummer Brad Pemberton and pedal steel player Ricky Ray Jackson) & recorded at Arlyn Studios in Austin. Produced by Richard Bennett.

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