“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
Hometown Blues – From Later With Jools Holland 1995:
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
..You know, Dylan didn’t even talk to me for the whole first month we were on the road. I thought that’s how it was going to be, but he eventually started talking to me, the way that Dylan talks. We talked a lot after that, but did we ever have a conversation? I think not. [laughs] I don’t think that’s what it is. A lot of it has to do with my ideas about Bob Dylan. He’s fuckin’ Bob Dylan and I’m Steve Earle. We’re going to communicate differently, and what I think about Bob Dylan is as much who I am, just because of my job, what I do. I am who I am as much because of Bob Dylan as anybody. Just like what we had talked about Townes [Van Zandt]. Townes was fully aware that Bob Dylan invented his job. Make no mistake about that. I am, too.
~Steve Earle (pitchfork interview 2007)
“About 2:30 in the morning, Townes walked in, It was the first time I’d ever been in an environment with him where we weren’t separated by a microphone. And he had on this beautiful buckskin jacket. And Townes started a craps game and lost every dime that he had. And that jacket. Within 15 minutes. And I thought, ‘My hero.’ ”
~Steve Earle (npr music)
Steve Earle has covered Townes Van Zandt many times, even release an album with cover songs (“Townes” in 2009). Here is a collection of videos I found on youtube – Great stuff!
“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!
He sings about fears in Ashes to Ashes and Conspiracy Theory, the ever-growing differences between the rich and the poor in Amerika V. 6.0 (The Best We Can Do), desperation of a Mexican man who lost his job in one of the many oppressive, foreign-owned assembly plants inWhat’s A Simple Man to Do and the injustice of the American judicial system in The Truth. Earle seems not so angry, but rather sad about the state of things.
He did not make a protest album all through, he has (as always) room for some sweet country ballads on the record. I especially like his duet with Emmylou Harris, I Remember You.
Steve Earle ends the album with a message of hope, a hope that the answers can be found in peace and forgiveness.
Jerusalem is the bold work of a thinking man and the album is a thought-provoking work of art.
Live @ Palladium, Malmö, Sweden 2009/10/28. Steve Earle do John Walker’s Blues from Jerusalem for the first time on the European leg of his 2009 tour:
Steve Earle performing Jerusalem(the song) live at Factory Theatre in Sydney on 8 April 2012 (with an incredible intro):
Steve Earle – Jerusalem on Spotify:
– Hallgeir (photos of Steve Earle taken at Bergenfest 2013, Norway)