I’ve been on a real deep dive into his discography of late. I rewatched The Wire a few months back and realized I needed to check out his music. Not something I would have appreciated or been able to stomach a handful of years ago but I’ve gained a new appreciation of country music in recent years. Anyway pick your three favorite albums and/or join me in discussing the music of Steve Earle.
Really love him but also have not done a deep dive. When I was morbidly lonely and depressed after finishing uni (fuck, 15 years ago) I would go to the central library a lot, leaving with piles of books, cds and dvds - honestly probably a better education than I got in the preceding three years - and one of them was a compilation of him called Angry Young Man.
It was amazing, and although I think the compilation’s long since been deleted, it’s still basis for the Spotify best of I keep of him, and runs:
1/ Copperhead Road
2/ The Devil’s right Hand
3/ Angry Young Man
4/ Waiting On You
5/ It’s All Up To You
6/ No. 29
7/ I Ain’t Ever Satisfied
8/ The Other Kind
9/ The Rain Came Down
10/ Guitar Town
11/ My Old Friend The Blues
There MIGHT have been an alternate track or two on that tape but it was basically the above (basically amazing) and seemed to tell the story to me of an angry young man in a small town trying to break out. I love it.
On a Wire-trip I recently read Clockers (seminal crime novel written by one of the writers) and it was phenomenal. You could see the basis for plenty of the show in it.
i feel (felt?) p much the same but a lot of fans really prefer that part of his career, more raw and more country. on spotify the 30th ann verison of Guitar Town sounds way better, would suggest checking that with new ears. Fearless Heart is an all time classic. Exit 0 is about half great.
i like Copperhead Road but think it’s held in such high regard cos it stands on three perfect songs (copperhead road, johnny come lately, devils right hand).
yeah well prob best to stick to his stuff up through Jerusalem for that reason.
the sound and production choices are suspect for sure, lost that ability to write/perform a memorable hook. started with Jerusalem i think (just listen to conspiracy theory). lost that edge you know. but there’s like 9 albums before it that are all varying degrees of good/great/classic so im not mad. and there’s def some good songs sprinkled in the post transcendental blues era but imo it’s closer to like… two per album.
having said that, I see that @PaintyCanNed voted for three albums from that era so I’d be interested to hear their thoughts on them, maybe hear what I’m missing.
Didn’t make my top three, but Washington Square Serenade was a decent record. Not really got into anything he’s done since. Some of the stuff before that is great, especially the ‘comeback’ albums (which in my head are Train A Coming, I Feel Alright El Corazon. I know it’s generally regarded as a terrible hard rock misstep in the depths of his addictions but I really liked The Hard Way as well. If you like rockin’ Steve Earle there’s an EP he did with the Supersuckers which is good.
Copperhead Road is an album that was always in the car (with a bunch of Ry Cooder) when we were driving around the country with my dad when I was a kid. It’s hard to judge it outwith that prism but I love it.
Video of him recording Johnny Come Lately with The Pogues:
There’s a slight possibility he was coked off his tits.