Steve Earle Returns w/”Townes”

 

“Townes
Van Zandt is the best songwriter in the whole world and I’ll stand on Bob
Dylan’s coffee table in my cowboy boots and say that.” – Steve Earle
(1995)

 

 

By
Blurt Staff

 

 

Steve
Earle is set to release Townes, his
highly anticipated follow up to the Grammy Award winning album Washington Square Serenade, on May 12th
via New West Records.   The 15-song set is comprised of songs written
by Earle’s friend and mentor, the late singer-songwriter, Townes Van
Zandt.  Townes will also be available as a deluxe two-CD set, as well as
double Limited Edition 180 gram vinyl.

 

 

Two
songs from the album, “Lungs” and “Pancho and Lefty,” are already being
previewed at Earle’s MySpace page.

 

 

The
album was produced by Earle at his home in Greenwich Village, at Sound Emporium
and Room and Board in Nashville, TN and The Nest in Hollywood,
CA.   The track
“Lungs,” was produced and mixed by the Dust Brothers’ John King and
features Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine/The Nightwatchman/Street
Sweeper on electric guitar.  Earle’s wife, the acclaimed singer-songwriter
Allison Moorer, is featured on backing vocals on “Loretta” and
“To Live Is To Fly.”  Three songs cut in Nashville, “White Freightliner
Blues,” “Delta Momma Blues,” and “Don’t Take It To o
Bad” feature a bluegrass band consisting of Dennis Crouch, Tim
O’Brien, Darrel Scott and Shad Cobb.

 

 

Earle
met Townes Van Zandt in 1972 at one of Earle’s performances at The Old Quarter
in Houston, TX.  Van Zandt was in the audience and
playfully heckled Earle throughout the performance to play the song
“Wabash Cannonball.” Earle admitted that he didn’t know how to
play the tune and Van Zandt replied incredibly, “You call yourself a
folksinger and yo u don’t know ‘Wabash Cannonball?'”  Earle then
silenced him by playing the Van Zandt song “Mr. Mudd and Mr. Gold,” not
an easy feat due to its quickly-paced mouthful of lyrics squeezed into just
over two minutes of song.  Their bond was immediately formed.  On
Townes, Earle and his son, singer-songwriter Justin Townes Earle (named after
Van Zandt) trade verses on the tune, a song the two of them have been playing
together since Justin was a teenager.

 

 

The
songs selected for Townes were the ones that meant the most to Earle and the
ones he personally connected to (not including selections featured on previous
Earle albums).  Some of the selections chosen were songs that Earle has
played his entire career (“Pancho and Lefty,” “Lungs,”
“White Freightliner Blues”) and others he had to learn specifically
for record ing.  He learned the song “(Quicksilver Daydreams of)
Maria” directly from Van Zandt, and taught himself “Marie” and
“Rake” specifically for the album’s recording.  Once a song he
played during his live show, Earle relearned “Colorado Girl” in the
original Open D tuning that Van Zandt played it in.  Earle recorded the New York sessions solo
and then added the other instruments later on in order to preserve the spirit
of Van Zandt’s original solo performances to the best of his recollection. 

 

 

When
speaking about Townes, Earle stated,
“This may be one of the best records I’ve ever made.  That hurts a
singer-songwriter’s feelings.  Then again, it’s some consolation that I
cherry picked through the career of one of the best songwriters that ever lived.”

 

 

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