This album sort of wrote itself. It was bigger than me and faster than me and so it took me awhile to get a handle on what it was about. Basically, it comes down to stuff I care about. That’s where the title comes from.
-Steve Earle (steveearle.net)
.. the album kicks off with a tremendous one-two punch, the rousing acoustic ballad “Christmas in Washington” and “Taneytown,” a harrowing story of race and violence backed with gale-force electric guitars. El Corazón is also a good bit more eclectic than much of Earle’s previous work, dipping into bluegrass (“You Know the Rest,” featuring backing from the Del McCoury Band), old-school country (“The Other Side of Town”), hard rock (“N.Y.C.,” co-starring the Supersuckers, and “Here I Am”), and vintage R&B (“Telephone Road”). As its title suggests, El Corazón often deals with matters of the heart, expressed with particular eloquence on “Poison Lovers” and “If You Fall,” though the song’s most emotionally resonant moment comes with its closing song, “Ft. Worth Blues,” a moving farewell to Earle’s longtime friend and mentor Townes Van Zandt.
-Mark Deming (allmusic.com)
Great album, one of Earle’s best!
It’s a mix of country, folk, rock, soul, pain, redemption and politics. What a magnificent brew it is ! Truly remarkable.
Taneytown (live, Sidney, 2013):
This song, which is graced with Emmylou Harris singing backup, is told from the point of view of a 22 year old retarded black man. I also wrote it in the form of a short story that will be in my book. Taneytown is a real place – you can see it on maps of The Battle Of Gettysburg – but it (the story) could reallytake place anywhere racism exists. I took a risk writing the story and a risk doing this song and I don’t claim to have it well…. But just taking the chance made it worthwhile for me.
-Steve Earle (steveearle.net)
“I woke up this mornin’ and none of the news was good And death machines were rumblin’ ‘cross the ground where Jesus stood And the man on my TV told me that it had always been that way And there was nothin’ anyone could do or say
And I almost listened to him Yeah, I almost lost my mind Then I regained my senses again And looked into my heart to find
That I believe that one fine day all the children of Abraham Will lay down their swords forever in Jerusalem” – Steve Earle (Jerusalem)
Steve Earle released this “protest album” post 9/11, but contrary to widespread belief it is not a concept album about the tragic events on that date. Yes, there are some songs relating to it, but only three out of eleven (maybe four). There were som controversy when it came out, especially the song John Walker’s Blues were widely discussed and often slated in right wing media. It is not a song that takes sides, it is a song that tells us that an ordinary American kid fell in with the wrong crowd (in this case, the Taliban). Earle make us look at this boy, and he does not say that he is innocent, but he says that he should be treated like a human being despite his faults and despite his guilt. It is a fantastic song.
“…Earle has crafted a vision of America thrown into chaos, where the falling of the World Trade Center towers is just another symbol of a larger malaise which surrounds us. Before its release,Jerusalem already generated no small controversy over the song “John Walker’s Blues,” which tells the tale of “American Taliban” John Walker Lindh as seen through his own eyes. While “John Walker’s Blues” is no more an endorsement of Lindh’s actions than Bruce Springsteen’s “Nebraska” was a tribute to mass-murderer Charles Starkweather, even though it’s one of the album’s strongest songs, if anything, it doesn’t go quite far enough.”
– Mark Demming (allmusic.com)
Steve Earle made a “state of the nation” album, and he is confused and he doesn’t come up with the answers, but he asks the important questions!
“With his new album, I Feel Alright, Texas-raised Earle turns a middle finger to Nashville and screams, ”Chuck it, I’m rockin’ out!” And that he does.”
– Alanna Nash (Entertainment Weekly)
“…like Train a Comin’, I Feel Alright shows Earle finding the courage and confidence to make a record just the way he wants, and this may be Earle’s finest hour in the studio — the production is tough, resonant, and a perfect match for the material, the players bring their A game without showboating, and Earle’s rough but passionate vocals are pure, honest, and direct on every cut.”
– Mark Demming (Allmusic) Continue reading “March 5: Steve Earle released I Feel Alright in 1996”→
The first two things I wrote were Guitar Town and Down the Road, because I was looking for an opening and an ending. So I wrote ’em like bookends, and then filled in the spaces in the middle. And the album’s kind of about me. It’s kind of personal.
~Steve Earle (to Alanna Nash – May 1986)
Guitar Town was his first shot at showing a major audience what he could do, and he hit a bull’s-eye — it’s perhaps the strongest and most confident debut album any country act released in the 1980s.
~Mark Deming (allmusic)
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.