30th ANNIVERSARY OF COPPERHEAD ROAD
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 26, 2018 at 8:00PM
SOUTHERN ALBERTA JUBILEE AUDITORIUM - CALGARY, AB
SO YOU WANNABE AN OUTLAW
If you ever had any doubt about where Steve Earle's musical
roots are planted, his new collection, So You Wannabe an
Outlaw, makes it perfectly plain. "There's nothing 'retro'
about this record," he states, "I'm just acknowledging
where I'm coming from." So You Wannabe an Outlaw is the
first recording he has made in Austin, Texas. Earle has
lived in New York City for the past decade but he
acknowledges, "Look, I'm always gonna be a Texan, no matter
what I do. And I'm always going to be somebody who learned
their craft in Nashville. It's who I am."
In the 1970s, artists such as Waylon Jennings, Willie
Nelson, Johnny Paycheck, Billy Joe Shaver and Tompall
Glaser gave country music a rock edge, some raw grit and a
rebel attitude. People called what these artists created
"outlaw music." The results were country's first Platinum-
certified records, exciting and fresh stylistic
breakthroughs and the attraction of a vast new youth
audience to a genre that had previously been by and for
adults. In the eighties, The Highwaymen was formed by
Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson and Waylon
Jennings. Their final album "The Road Goes On Forever"
released in 1996 began with the Steve Earle song "The
Devil's Right Hand."
Steve Earle's 2017 collection, So You Wannabe an Outlaw, is
an homage to outlaw music. "I was out to unapologetically
'channel' Waylon as best as I could." says Earle. "This
record was all about me on the back pick-up of a Fender
Telecaster on an entire record for the first time in my
life. The singing part of it is a little different. I
certainly don't sound like Waylon Jennings."
"I moved to Nashville in November of 1974, and right after
that Willie Nelson's Red Headed Stranger came out. I was
around when Waylon was recording [the 1975 masterpiece]
Dreaming My Dreams. Guitar Town (Earle's 1986 breakthrough
album) wound up being kind of my version of those types of
songs," Earle recalls.
"This new record started because T Bone Burnett called me
and wanted a specific song to be written for the first
season of (the TV series) Nashville. It was for the
character whose brother was in prison. So I wrote 'If Mama
Coulda Seen Me,' and they used it. Then Buddy Miller asked
me to write another one for the show and I wrote 'Lookin'
for a Woman,' which they didn't wind up using. I'd been
listening to Waylon's Honky Tonk Heroes again, and I
decided to start writing in that direction."
The new songs include the gentle, acoustic folk ballads
"News From Colorado" and "The Girl on the Mountain."
"Fixin' to Die," on the other hand, is a dark shout from
the hell of Death Row. "The Firebreak Line" returns Earle
to his pile-driving, country-rock roots. "You Broke My
Heart" is a sweet, simple salute to the 1950s sounds of
Webb Pierce or Carl Smith. "Walkin' in L.A." is a twanging
country shuffle. The guitar-heavy "Sunset Highway" is an
instant-classic escape song. And the deeply touching
"Goodbye Michelangelo" is Steve Earle's farewell to his
mentor, Guy Clark, who passed away last year. "It was
written right after me and Rodney Crowell and Shawn Camp
and a few other folks had taken Guy's ashes to Terry
Allen's house in New Mexico," Earle says. "I was only 19
when I came to Nashville. Guy and Susanna Clark finished
raising me. Guy was a great cheerleader for me."
Earle is backed on the new album by his long time band The
Dukes (guitarist Chris Masterson, fiddle player Eleanor
Whitmore, bassist Kelly Looney, and new members drummer
Brad Pemberton and pedal steel player Ricky Ray Jackson).
"We did the Guitar Town 30th-anniversary tour last year,"
he said. "And that was perfect to write the last of the
songs for this record. Because I had the band out there
with me, and we could try out some stuff."
"Waylon's Honky Tonk Heroes was the template for the new
album. And I've always considered that record to be really
important. I consider his Honky Tonk Heroes the Exile on
Main Street of country music."
"I knew when I wrote 'Walkin' in L.A.' that I wanted Johnny
Bush to sing on it. I've known Johnny since 1973 when I
was playing a restaurant in San Antonio. Joe Voorhees, who
played piano for Bush, and I were stoned and hungry, so we
went to Bush's and raided the icebox in his kitchen. We're
sitting there, and Joe goes white and says, 'John!' I
turned around and there was a .357 Magnum pointed at the
back of my head. So that's how I really met Johnny Bush.
Years later, he signed an autograph to me that said,
'Steve, I'm glad I didn't pull the trigger.'"
Steve Earle's third duet partner on So You Wannabe an
Outlaw is Miranda Lambert. The two co-wrote their vocal
collaboration "This Is How it Ends." "I learned from Guy
Clark that co-writing might lead me to write some stuff
that I wouldn't write otherwise," comments Earle. "The song
is Miranda's title, and some of the very best lines in it
So You Want To Be An Outlaw is dedicated to Jennings, who
died in 2002. The deluxe CD and the vinyl version of the
album include Earle's remakes of the timeless Waylon
Jennings anthem "Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way," as
well as Billy Joe Shaver's "Ain't No God in Mexico," which
Jennings popularized as well as Earle's versions of
"Sister's Coming Home" and "The Local Memory," songs that
first appeared on Willie Nelson discs. Nelson is his duet
partner on the new album's title track.
Steve Earle has turned many musical corners during his
illustrious career. He has been equally acclaimed as a folk
troubadour, a rockabilly raver, a contemplative bluesman, a
honky-tonk rounder, a snarling rocker and even a bluegrass
practitioner. This definitive Americana artist has won
three Grammy Awards, for 2005's The Revolution Starts Now,
2008's Washington Square Serenade and 2010's Townes.
He is also the author of the 2011 short-story collection
Doghouse Roses and novel I'll Never Get Out of This World
Alive. Earle has been featured as an actor in two HBO
series, The Wire and Treme, and on stage in The Exonerated.
His film work includes roles in such respected features as
The World Made Straight (2015), Leaves of Grass (2009) and
Dixieland (2015). For the past decade he has hosted the
weekly show Hardcore Troubadour for the Outlaw Country
Channel on SiriusXM Radio and he is a longtime social and
political activist whose causes have included the abolition
of the death penalty and the removal of the Confederate
symbol from the Mississippi State flag.
Earle has collaborated on recordings with such superb
talents as Sheryl Crow, The Indigo Girls, The Pogues,
Lucinda Williams Shawn Colvin, Patti Smith, Chris Hillman,
The Fairfield Four and The Del McCoury Band. His songs have
been used in more than fifty films and have been recorded
by such legends as Johnny Cash, Emmylou Harris, and Joan
Baez, Carl Perkins, Vince Gill and Waylon Jennings (who
recorded Earle's "The Devil's Right Hand" twice).
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