Saturday, 29 October 2011

GUEST SPOT # 22 - Steve Earle - 'Copperhead Road'

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Thankfully, our regular guest spot contributor Jon has taken a break from teaching his two young Padawans (daughters) the ways of the Jedi and written another great post:-

Steve Earle - 'Copperhead Road' (1988)

I remember hearing this track for the first time at the age of 14 on an afternoon show on Radio 1 (yes, really - I forget who the DJ was but the likes of Andy Kershaw were playing slightly more eclectic stuff than the standard Hit Factory fayre at the time). Over the following 5 minutes my assumptions and preconceptions of a genre that I had always mentally put in a big bin labelled "Uncool" melted away. Country music was suddenly no longer in my mind a bunch of bad songs with dodgy lyrics sung by people pretending to be cowboys dressed in crimes against fashion. This was hard-edged rockabilly country with unusually left-leaning politics, and put country music on the map for me, until Billy Ray Cyrus killed the vibe temporarily in the early 90s.

Damn you Billy Ray!!

Sure, I may not have been able to relate directly to the lyrics - I'd never grown dope, distilled moonshine or served in Vietnam. I was a slightly geeky middle-class UK suburban kid. But the simple, raw delivery spoke to me and painted a pretty vivid picture. Copperhead Road got more radio airplay than I ever thought possible and very nearly broke into the all-important Top 40, but stalled just outside.  A mate of mine had the album which I duly borrowed and was on near continuous play for the next month or so - especially side 1 (ask your parents, kids) which was by far the more up-tempo side.



Much more recently at the start of 2011 Kate and I watched The Wire seasons 1 to 5 pretty much back to back on a nightly basis. Steve Earle had a cameo role in a very art imitating life way as a recovering drug addict musician.  I barely recognised him from my late 80s memories - in fact it wasn't until his character's reappearance in later seasons that I realised it was him. His rendition of The Wire's opening track - Tom Waits' "Way Down In The Hole" in the final season was spot on though and made me dig out Copperhead Road again It's had regular outings ever since.

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GUEST SPOT # 22 - Steve Earle - 'Copperhead Road'
4/ 5
Oleh

7 comments

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29 October 2011 at 09:11

Great song, without doubt. Saw Steve do a solo performance last year and, even with just him and his acoustic, it was very fine.

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sfw
29 October 2011 at 10:30

The video looks like Skid Row meets Country! I must admit I've heard of Steve Earle but haven't heard anything by him. I know he's produced some Ron Sexsmith albums and his most recent album is produced by T-Bone Burnett - I'll have to check it out! Any recommendations?

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29 October 2011 at 10:48

I got into SE 1996 with his 'I feel alright' album
and immediatly got some of his earlier stuff, 'Copper Road' But nothing he has done since (that I have listened to) has done it for me! Jon try Kris Kristoferson first 2 albums, may change your mind about Country. Hey! Aw!

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29 October 2011 at 12:50

'Jerusalem' is a fantastic album.

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29 October 2011 at 15:20

I love that, Skid Row meets Country!

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31 October 2011 at 19:28

I really, really, really like this song! Nice post again Jon!

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Jon
1 November 2011 at 12:55

Thanks. Was gutted to find out that Steve was playing at the Cambridge Corn Exchange in a couple of weeks when I'm away for the weekend. Will check out the Kriss Kristofferson - sounds promising.

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