Malo, Flaco and Earle

I love the Mavericks. Love the sound of lead singer Raul Malo’s voice. “All You Ever Do is Bring Me Down” rose out of my mp3 shuffle today. Tex-Mex superstar accordionist Flaco Jimenez adds his signature playing to the tune.

The Mavericks: All You Ever Do Is Bring Me Down (mp3) – from The Definitive Collection

That led me to listen to Flaco’s early 90’s group the Texas Tornados. The group also consisted of Freddy Fender, Doug Sahm, and Augie Meyers.

Texas Tornados: Adios Mexico (mp3) – from The Best of the Texas Tornados

That song led me, for obvious reasons (you’ll know when you hear both tunes), to Steve Earle. If you take Adios Mexico’s traditional Tex-Mex accordion riff, strap a NASA booster rocker to it, and turn the amp up to 11, you get this:

Steve Earle: What’s a Simple Man To Do (mp3) – from Jerusalem

Mister Earle and his post big house blues

Sundays are for playing music that matches your end of the weekend BLAHS. This tune has been my woe-is-me companion since I discovered Steve in the mid-90’s thanks to the formerly good Phoenix radio station KZON (a station whose only saving grace these days is their 4 hours of Howard Stern every morning).

I got the chance to see Steve around that time at the now defunct Rockin Horse saloon in Scottsdale (burned to the ground I think). Steve had just completed his stint in the big house due to his recurring problems with drugs, and he was embarking on the best musical journey of his career. His first album after the drug & jail adventures was ‘Train a Comin’, released in 1995. It was an acoustic journey made up of old and new songs alike, as well as a great covers of “I’m Looking Through You”, “Rivers of Baylon”, and “Tecumseh Valley”. The highlight of the album for me though – due to my fondness for the melancholy tunes – is “Goodbye”.

Last verse:

I only miss you here every now and then
Like the soft breeze blowin up from the Caribbean
Most Novembers I break down and cry
But I can’t remember if we said goodbye

Sniff. Damn Steve. I hope this tune turns someone out there on to Mr. Earle. I reckon it will.

Steve Earle
: Goodbye (mp3)

Et tu, Mr. Earle?

I don’t know quite what to think. In the midst of the MLB All Star Game last night, I hear the bad-ass sounds of Steve Earle permeating the airwaves… IN A CHEVY COMMERCIAL. Yes, “The Revolution Starts Now” has gone from the battlecry of those not entirely please with the current administration to the trumpeting of the new Chevy truck revolution or whatever. I – as I said, not quite sure how to feel here. Sure tons of artists have contributed music to commercials, and who’s to say I wouldn’t for that sweet almighty U.S. dollar? So who am I to really judge? But it just feels weird to think Steve Earle took a song so near and dear to his heart like that, and gave it to Chevy. BUT, by the same token, it is possible to discover cool music through commericals. Like Richard Buckner‘s “Ariel Ramirez”.

Richard Buckner: Ariel Ramirez (mp3) from Since

There’s a ghost that haunts this town

Steve Earle. Still a hidden gem. He’s managed to fly just enough below the radar that when I’m asked who I listen to, and one of my replies is Steve Earle, it always elicits a “hmm, haven’t heard of him”, or “what kind of music does he play?”. I can’t say country. I can’t say alt-country. Roots rocker? Singer songwriter? No, too tame. Blues, rock, country, bluegrass, just plain old American is Mr. Earle. All wrapped up tight into one opinionated, fiery sonuvabitch.

Well, after a brief prison vacation in the early 90’s, Steve has released some of the best albums I will ever own. ‘I Feel Alright’, ‘Train a Comin’, ‘El Corazon’, ‘Jerusalem’, ‘Transcendental Blues’, last year’s ‘The Revolution Starts Now’. He keeps churnin em out.

Anyhow, I came across this acoustic live version of “Halo ‘Round the Moon” a few years ago. It’s probably my most frequently played tune in my Steve Earle collection. It’s short, sweet, intense, sad, and beautiful. I remember seeing somewhere that this was recorded live in Sweden, but I’m not sure. If anyone knows, please let me know. He starts out with an intro about Galway Bay, the River Carrib , and the Wolfe Tone Bridge. The studio version appears on ‘Transcendental Blues’, which Steve wrote during a months-long stay in Galway. I hope someone out there enjoys it as much as I do (and the guy at the 2:06 mark who lets out a primal “EAAGGH”.

Steve Earle – Halo ‘Round the Moon (mp3) – live, acoustic – date and location unknown (anyone?)

See Steve’s Official Web Site
Steve Earle Original Unofficial Site
Check out Steve’s albums on Amazon
Find out more about Steve on All Music Guide.