Pop on Record: Steve Earle `El Corazn'
Warner Bros. 9362-46789-2
Friday 10 October 1997
These songs are full of movement, packed with latter-day pioneer spirits trying to find out if the grass really is greener elsewhere. Sometimes they find what they're looking for, like the lad becalmed in Lafayette, "workin' all week for the Texaco check", who finally ignores his mother's advice and splits for the bright lights of Houston, where he discovers "Telephone Road", a strip "ten miles long, fifty car lots and a hundred honky-tonks". Other times the journey is less successful, like that taken by the black youth who, again ignoring sage parental advice, travels to redneck "Taneytown", where he's forced to defend himself with a knife which he drops as he's running away; another black youth finds it, and is hung for the crime.
Such injustices are more directly addressed in "Christmas In Washington", which is effectively Earle's own "Song For Woody", an impassioned lament for the passing of a tradition of social conscience, set to tentative mandola and harmonium accompaniment. His heart, clearly, is in another time - probably the one reflected in "The Other Side Of Town", a beautifully- realised genre exercise in immaculate Hank Williams style, complete with "antique" scratches.
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