Steve Earle

iPod Check: Recommend Ten Tracks

June 2, 2009 // 23 Comments

While I know it goes against the proper album listening experience, my favorite way to listen to my iPod is to put it on shuffle and see what pops up. It’s like my own personal radio station without the commercials, talking and music that I dislike. So, today I’m going to put my iPod on shuffle and list ten country songs that I would comfortably recommend to you. In the comments, you can do the same for us.

Holly Williams, "Mama"

May 15, 2009 // 2 Comments

Justin Townes Earle, son of Steve Earle, has recently received considerable press regarding his beautiful and classy song that pays tribute to his mother. It’s been reported that before he sings the song at a show, he introduces it by saying that his father gets enough credit, but someone who does not is his mother. This is easily true about most spouses or ex spouses of famous people. So, it’s nice when an adult child takes advantage of his/her platform to rectify the oversight, which is something that Hank Williams Jr’s daughter has done as well.

Holly Williams sings a tribute to her selfless mother, simply titled “Mama.” While the song is as simple as the title, it is sweet and intriguingly revealing about her childhood. In “Mama”, Williams thanks her mom for shielding her from the emotional turmoil that undoubtedly plagued her as a result of a broken marriage to the famously rebel rousing, Hank Williams Jr.

Bargain Hunter: Steve Earle, <em>Townes</em>

May 11, 2009 // 0 Comments

Still available on Amazon (Tuesday)! Don’t miss this opportunity to add Steve Earle’s newest album, Townes, to your collection for only $2.99!

Although Earle has covered Townes Van Zandt’s material throughout his career, this is the first time he’s put together an album entirely dedicated to Van Zandt’s songs. A master covering a master can only yield brilliant results, right? I’ll be reviewing this album later on, but check it out and let me know what you think!

Favorite Songwriter

April 3, 2009 // 19 Comments

don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before, but I happen to be a huge Steve Earle fan. I find the Virginia-born, Texas-inspired, former drug addict, political activist, actor/radio personality, singer-songwriter, and country-rock star simply irresistible. He is gifted with an instinctive ear for music (which he has generously passed on to his son, Justin Townes Earle), a curious mind, a keen awareness of the world and an empathetic heart.

Given these qualities, one of Earle’s most indelible contributions to country music will be as a songwriter. His empathy, awareness of the world around him and curiosity have allowed him to musically explore the human soul. He is uniquely unafraid to step out of himself and into another’s shoes, to feel another’s joy and pain and to tell his or her story. In many ways, Earle is “the seeker” he sings of in his song of the same title:

Texas Country

March 26, 2009 // 15 Comments

Stuck in my car stereo over the last couple of weeks has been a CD loaded with tunes from some of my favorite Texas-affiliated artists.  I’m a big fan of the singer-songwriter, old school and raggedy rock styles of country music, and Texas excels at all three. So any time I need a break from the current “Nashville sound,” I like to check in with Texas and see what they’re up to. Invariably, it’s more colorful and interesting. I can’ t call myself an expert on Texas country by any stretch of the imagination and my education is nowhere remotely near complete (hint: feel free to recommend), but I do sense that it’s a style of music, or perhaps a musical sensibility, that is extremely important to maintain.  Texas artists exude a certain spirit of creativity and sense of individuality that is sorely lacking elsewhere in country music.  And in Read More

Themed Albums

February 13, 2009 // 7 Comments

Kathy Mattea’s brilliant album released last year, Coal, reminded me of how much I love themed albums.  There is something unique and special about an album that addresses a single topic from varied angles or transports the listener on a purposeful ride.  It’s not just a random collection of singles with little to coalesce them together.  Rather, like great movies, themed albums demand that you listen from the first note to the last, lest you miss something important in between. Willie Nelson’s Red Headed Stranger is one of the most famous themed albums in country music history.  The entire album is based on the conceptual story of a preacher who shoots his cheating wife and her lover before going on the run. However, the theme doesn’t have to be as concrete as the one in Red Headed Stranger or as narrow as the one in Coal, which endeavors to shine Read More

Grammy Flashback: Best Male Country Vocal Performance

January 19, 2009 // 10 Comments

Updated for 2009 While the Grammys have honored country music from the very first ceremony in 1959, they did not begin honoring by gender until 1965, when the country categories were expanded along with the other genre categories. This year, the 45th trophy for Best Male Country Vocal Performance will be awarded. In a continuation of our Grammy Flashback series, here is a rundown of the Best Country Vocal Performance, Male category. It was first awarded in 1965, and included singles competing with albums until the Best Country Album category was added in 1995. When an album is nominated, it is in italics, and a single track is in quotation marks. As usual, we start with a look at this year’s nominees and work our way back. Be sure to vote in My Kind of Country’s Best Male Country Vocal Performance poll and let your preference for this year’s race be known! Read More

Leeann Ward’s Top Singles of 2008

December 27, 2008 // 12 Comments

Here are my favorite singles of 2008. As Dan has done, I lifted the entries that I had already written from our collective list for this article. #20: Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, “Please Read The Letter” The album from which this song comes seems like an unlikely collaboration. It, however, somehow works as one of the best albums of the decade and any song from it would make my top twenty singles list this year. #19: Hank Williams III, “Six Pack of Beer” Hank Williams III is known for relishing a rebel persona and this attitude is often reflected in his music. More often than not, his songs contain observations wrapped in harsh lyrics that cause me to wince, but his production and voice, which are both more comparable to Hank Sr. than Hank III’s father, still draws me to his music, nonetheless. This song, however, is simply pure Read More

Best Country Singles of 2008, Part 1: #40-#31

December 15, 2008 // 8 Comments

Starting today, the Country Universe staff will be revealing our Top 40 Singles of 2008.   This list has been compiled through a combination of four individual Top 20 lists by Leeann, Blake, Dan and myself, wherein a certain number of “points” was delegated to a single each time it was mentioned on one of the lists. The final list reflects the total number of points that each single received between the four lists. Those lists will be revealed along with other individual writer content next week as part of our continuing coverage of the Best of 2008. #40 Trisha Yearwood, “They Call it Falling For a Reason” This song really sounds like it could fit perfectly with Yearwood’s music of the ‘90s. The production is both modest and interesting at the same time. Furthermore, the lyrics are light without seeming inane. As we will lament about many singles on this Read More

Favorite Songs by Favorite Artists: Patty Loveless

August 10, 2008 // 38 Comments

Patty Loveless has built a Hall of Fame-worthy career, one that has perfectly blended country music’s past and present into a trademark musical style that she can truly call her own, all the while selling gold and platinum and succeeding at country radio. Her mix of commercial and critical success is almost unsurpassed in modern-day country music. Along with Tony Brown, and later with her producer husband Emory Gordy Jr., Loveless made a true effort to sing songs that were significant to her, wringing every last drop of emotion into each lyric. The listener felt every hopeful or hurtful moment, and I have selected my 25 favorites in a career filled with classics. The emphasis is on her Epic recordings, although she had plenty of fine moments during her MCA days. #25 “Hurt Me Bad (In a Real Good Way)” Up Against My Heart, 1991 One of Patty’s earlier successes, Read More

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