Steve Earl - Washington Square Serenade (2007)


Thanks to Jimmy for this post. Steve's best record in years!
Washington Square Serenade is an album by alternative country singer Steve Earle. The album features the singer's wife, Allison Moorer on the track "Days Aren't Long Enough," and the Brazilian group Forro In The Dark on the track "City of Immigrants." The track "Way Down in the Hole," by Tom Waits, will be featured as the opening theme song for the fifth and final season of the HBO series The Wire, on which Earle plays a recurring character named Waylon. The album was released on September 25, 2007, on New West Records.

Nashville, Tennessee where he met and worked with fellow Texans Guy Clark and his wife Susanna. Guy was instrumental in Steve being employed as a songwriter by the Sunburry Dunbar publishing division of RCA. Steve did backing vocals on Guy Clark's "Desperados Waiting For A Train" together with Emmylou Harris on Clark's first album "Old No 1".

Despite his early success as a songwriter, it was not until 1981 that he achieved a top ten cut with "When You Fall in Love", which was recorded by Johnny Lee.

His early work as a recorded performer was in the rockabilly style, and can be heard on the "Early Years" album. He had to wait until 1986, though, before his first proper album, "Guitar Town", was released. It was a critical success and sold over 300,000 copies. The follow-up albums "Exit 0" and "Copperhead Road" the video for which was directed by Tony van den Ende, built on this success.

Earle had been a drug user since an early age, and was addicted to heroin for many years. By the time of his 1990 album "The Hard Way", it started to become clear that the drugs were seriously affecting him. In 1993, his drug problems resulted in him effectively stopping performing and recording for two years, a period he refers to as his "vacation in the ghetto". He eventually ended up in jail on drug and firearms charges. Kicking the drug habit while in jail, Earle came out a new man and released two albums within 18 months of his release in late 1994. His comeback album, the acoustic Train A Comin', was nominated for the "Best Contemporary Folk Album" Grammy Award in 1996.

Earle's "second, post-jail musical career" has been noticeably more musically diverse than his early work. Since setting up his own record label, he has been able to follow his own artistic direction, rather than being constrained by the Nashville country pop-rock sound. This has led to experimentation with a range of styles from country and bluegrass music to folk and hard rock music. He maintained a strict work ethic. Several albums have been released since, as well as a book of haiku and a collection of short stories called Doghouse Roses. He also wrote and directed a play about the death penalty. Earle also tours often, playing over 200 shows per year. His concerts tend to be either solo acoustic shows or ensemble affairs with one of his two backing bands, the Dukes or the Bluegrass Dukes.

Earle appeared as a recovering drug addict named Walon in two episode of the first season the HBO series "The Wire". He addresses a 12-step-type meeting with an account of how he lost everything to addiction:"I pawned my bike, my pickup truck, a national steel guitar, lost a good wife, a bad girlfriend, and the respect of anyone who ever lent me money." He has reprised the role occasionally in subsequent seasons.

Earle is the subject of a documentary film entitled Just an American Boy, directed by Amos Poe, which explores his political views as well as his music. In 2005, he caused consternation among his fans by allowing the song "The Revolution Starts Now" to be used by General Motors in a TV advertisement for pick-up trucks.

Earle is also the subject of an acclaimed biography, Steve Earle: Fearless Heart, Outlaw Poet, by the noted New York-based music writer David McGee.

In 2006, several Steve Earle songs were featured in the movie Talladega Nights: "Valentine's Day", "Hard-Core Troubadour" and "I Feel Alright". In 2007, Earle's song, "Someday" off his 1986 hit record, Guitar Town was featured the movie Bridge to Terabithia.

In 2007, Steve Earle returned with his 12th studio album, Washington Square Serenade, released on New West Records.


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