“This ain’t no part of no unplugged nothin — God, I hate MTV”
~Steve Earle (Liner notes)
I got to thinking,…if I don’t make this record now, I won’t get the chance to make it. .. I’m singing the best I’ve sung in years. Mainly [because of] no dope. Heroin relaxes your vocal cords, it lowers the top of your range a little bit, and then when you try to sing over it…
~Steve Earle (to SPIN in 1995)
I wish I’d never come back home
It don’t feel right since I’ve been grown
I can’t find any of my old friends hangin’ ’round
Won’t nothin’ bring you down like your hometown
February 28, 1995
Folk, country, country rock, bluegrass
Train a Comin’ is an acoustic studio album by Steve Earle. The album, Earle’s first in five years, was released in 1995. In addition to Earle, it features Peter Rowan, Norman Blake, Roy Huskey, and Emmylou Harris. The album was nominated for a Grammy for Best Contemporary Folk Album.
If you see her out tonight
And she tells you it’s just the lights
That bring her here and not her loneliness
That’s what she says but sometimes she forgets
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.”
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.
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).
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.
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)