An Earle-y Death

Over the centuries of my existence I have developed a liking for what is currently known as Alt Country music…in other words anything that isn’t country music. 😀

Ooo…that’s just a wee bit mean of me.

I suppose it all stemmed from the fact that my dad liked traditional country…and I hated the type of country he liked.  It was part of the unwritten agreement between generations.  It was mandatory to detest your parents’ music and damned cool to boot.  Like your parents music and you would become a social pariah in quick time.  In the ’70’s country music to Scots meant “Oor Sidney”, the dreaded Sidney Devine.  Mind you I ‘m not sure if my folks liked Sidney...but you couldn’t take a chance on that sort of thing.  Better pledging your undying allegiance to Black Sabbath or Led Zeppelin if you wanted to keep some measure of peer credibility.

Sadly this natural order of things has broken down over the  years with Cap’n Jack exploring my music…and me being partial to Green Day and  Placebo.  This would have been unthinkable 40 years ago…my God THAT long!

Admittedly the more extreme ends of the spectrum received equal measure of contempt from both parties, Cap’n Jack having nothing to do with the Incredible String Band and me likewise with some of his bands hell bent on promoting all things on the anti-Christ front and other such jolly japes!   However we both come together in condemning “The Bleating Sheep” who’s a big fan of modern R&B, soul, hip hop and other such unspeakable varieties of…no I refuse to acknowledge them as a form of music.

Anyway back to the country thingy…

I’d listened to The Byrds (in the Gram Parsons era) knock out some decent country numbers.  I’d followed the shambling wanderings of the Grateful Dead, the more conservative New Riders of the Purple Sage, the country-pop orientated  Eagles…but I’d still to find that alt country musician who could produce an album I would listen to all the way through.

Many years later along came Steve Earle.  At last, my kind of country music.

Just to be perverse I’m not going to play anything by Steve Earle just now, but here’s a video of his son Justin Townes Earle  bashing out the happiest suicide song ever!  Does your heart proud to listen to that happy beat and hear the thoughts of some poor sod all hell bent on doing away with himself.  He’s a quair lookin’ character altogether…

While the younger Earle sings of self destruction the elder Earle is a big supporter of the campaign against the death penalty in the US, with a number of his songs based on the last moments of prisoners on death row.  I recall playing “Ellis Unit One” at the local folk club – hard going on the emotions.  Never tried to play it again.

On the subject of death and in particular contemplating suicide –  Bryan Ferry had a much more reflective approach to the extreme end of self harm and bumped out a brilliant version of that old country classic “Goodnight Irene”.  I first remember hearing that song on that bastion of unintended racism “The Black and White Minstrel Show” where I, as a pre 12 year old, made no connection whatsoever between those painted faces and coloured people.  Such a sheltered upbringing.  Oddly my mind still doesn’t make that connection but that’s probably because there is no cultural background to that particular scenario where I come from.  We much preferred sectarianism.

And…by the way…don’t you just love that big bass “I play in a pished sectarian flute band” drum on its big single beat in the background starting in the second chorus.  Gotta love it!

So that was Bryan Ferry and “Goodnight Irene” – depression and death…now that’s alt country!

So…why am I so happy?  ‘Cause I’m on holiday for 2 weeks 😀  and I’ve just cooked a couple of nice steaks and opened a v-e-r-y nice bottle of red.

Tonight’s red wine is a pinot noir from the Robert Mondavi Winery in California’s Napa Valley and I’m impressed at the number of semi-coherent words (with little by way of spelling mistakes) it can knock out in 30 minutes.

Hope you enjoyed the music and next time I may even have gotten around to finishing the “Tail” of our walk along The Fife Coastal Path.

OK…I relent…here’s Steve Earle on the more uplifting “I don’t want to die” track that is “Transendental Blues”  Remember…bang up the volume! 😉

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