Sign up for newsletter
 

Steve Earle gives "Townes" the tribute treatment

Monday, March 9, 2009 – Townes Van Zandt was always one of Steve Earle's greatest influences, and now the singer will give him the tribute treatment. Earle will release "Townes" on May 12th via New West Records. The 15-song set is comprised of songs written by Van Zandt. "Townes" will also be available as a deluxe 2-CD set, as well as double Limited Edition 180 gram vinyl.

The album was produced by Earle at his home in Greenwich Village, at Sound Emporium and Room and Board in Nashville and The Nest in Hollywood. 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, 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 Too Bad feature a bluegrass band consisting of Dennis Crouch, Tim O'Brien, Darrel Scott and Shad Cobb.

Earle met Van Zandt in 1972 at one of Earle's performances at The Old Quarter in Houston. 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 you 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. 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 recording. 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.

Van Zandt's debut album, "For The Sake Of The Song," was released in 1968. His last, "No Deeper Blue," appeared in 1995. His life and songs are the subject of a 2006 documentary film, "Be Here To Love Me." Van Zandt died in 1997 at 52.

Songs are:
1. Pancho and Lefty
2. White Freightliner Blues
3. Colorado Girl
4. Where I Lead Me
5. Lungs
6. No Place To Fall
7. Loretta
8. Brand New Companion
9. Rake
10. Delta Momma Blues
11. Marie
12. Don't Take It Too Bad
13. Mr. Mudd and Mr. Gold
14. (Quicksilver Daydreams Of) Maria
15. To Live Is To Fly

Earle will be touring in support of "Townes" with tour dates announced shortly.

More news

CD reviews

So You Wanna Be An Outlaw CD review - So You Wanna Be An Outlaw
If Steve Earle had never done another album after "Guitar Town" and "Copperhead Road," he'd still have cemented his place in the musical firmament for skillfully creating a ragged and beautiful tapestry from the stray threads of rootsy rock and authentic country. And that may well be why his catalog over the past three decades has been so compelling and satisfying; he has consistently proven that he has nothing to prove. "So You Wannabe an Outlaw" is the latest »»»
Terraplane CD review - Terraplane
In the Instagram era where people use apps to turn digital snapshots into sepia-toned portraits, Steve Earle's 16th studio release finds its place with an old-school sound. It's a Polaroid of rural country, blues and bluegrass frozen in time. But instead of outdated, it plays on the nostalgia of its modern audience. Named for the 1930s Hudson muscle car model, "Terraplane," the cover is a cacophony of vintage graphics hinting to the fun times that lie beneath. »»»
The Warner Bros Years CD review - The Warner Bros Years
On the surface, this five-disc box set appears to be another egregious exercise in major label money-grubbing, a study on how to squeeze every last penny out of those precious (and paid-for) catalogs. After all, what self-respecting fan of Steve Earle doesn't own "Train A' Comin'," "I Feel Alright" and "El Corazon" in at least four or five formats (including the hard-to-find mini-disc version)? That said, it's kind of cool to have all three »»»
Editorial: Walking the talk – When names like Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Waylon and the Hag are invoked, you're talking hard core country. These are the touchstones of country , the guys who made country music what it was and still is (or maybe can be). When these folks would sing about being down-and-out and the rough-and-tumble, they knew of what they were singing about. Fast forward a few years to the country singers of today. »»»
Concert Review: Elephant Revival becomes a headscratcher – Elephant Revival is not the easiest band to sonically pinpoint. Typically grouped in the bluegrass/jam band arena, in the live setting, the Colorado band stretched its musical boundaries. Folk and jazz overtones were part of the mix as well for the veterans. No matter the style, Elephant Revival easily absorbed and mastered the music.... »»»
Concert Review: Mellencamp flexes his creative muscles – For his "Sad Clowns & Hillbillies" tour, John Mellencamp brought along Carlene Carter - the night's self-described hostess who appears on the recent album, as well as Emmylou Harris. Each iconic woman performed her own set, as well as joining in with the headliner's set. With Mellencamp dressed rather formally, this man introduced... »»»
Subscribe to Country News Digest Country News Digest      Follow Country Standard Time on twitter CST      Visit Country Standard Time on Facebook CST

Elsewhere in the news

Currently at the CST blogs

May shifts gears, directions Headed into 2015, Imelda May was on a hit streak. Her rockabilly career was in full swing, nurtured by the likes of former Squeeze keyboardist Jools Holland and guitar icon Jeff Beck. Her albums routinely topped the charts in her native Ireland.... »»»
Lane assumes mantle of "Highway Queen" For most artists, eight years is a fair amount of time in their careers. For Nikki Lane, eight years represents the entirety of her recorded history, and she's filled that relatively short time span with a highlight reel of impressive accomplishments, not the least of which would be actually... »»»
The Avett Brothers come home to MerleFest For The Avett Brothers, MerleFest is a coming home of sorts. This year's edition of the MerleFest "traditional-plus" music festival in Wilkesboro, N.C., the event's 30th anniversary, a milestone...... »»»
Mayhayley's House CD review - Mayhayley's House
For years, Lonesome River Band was proud to be "Carrying The Tradition" of bluegrass music. Then, with last year's release they began the process of "Bridging The Tradition" of bluegrass to something a little more progressive, a little more modern. Now, "Mayhayley's House" proves that LRB is continuing across that bridge. »»»
Positively Bob Willie Nile Sings Bob Dylan CD review - Positively Bob Willie Nile Sings Bob Dylan
The reasons musicians elect to record full-album tributes are as varied as the results. Willie Nile's previous album "World War Willie" was a fiery collection of roots rock that didn't delve far from the approach that served him across 35 years as a recording artist. Inspired by his invitation to perform at a Dylan tribute show, Nile has taken it upon himself to refocus attention on the influence the Dylan songbook had on his development. The results are appreciated... »»»
So You Wanna Be An Outlaw CD review - So You Wanna Be An Outlaw
If Steve Earle had never done another album after "Guitar Town" and "Copperhead Road," he'd still have cemented his place in the musical firmament for skillfully creating a ragged and beautiful tapestry from the stray threads of rootsy rock and authentic country. And that may well be why his catalog over the past three decades has been so compelling and satisfying; »»»
Heart Break CD review - Heart Break
Lady Antebellum may cause you to throw out many of your country music principles. They don't sing and play traditional country music, for starters. They're not cool like more rocking Americana artists. In fact, they're huge mainstream country stars. So, why are some of us still suckers for their sound? And why does the new "Heart Break" sound so good on the ears? Well, it's simple, but complicated. »»»
You Don't Own Me Anymore CD review - You Don't Own Me Anymore
Three albums into their career, the evolution of The Secret Sisters provide a thoroughly enjoyable experience for the listener. The beauty of their harmonies was evident from the first note, but their songwriting has progressed to the point that it deserves equal attention. "You Don't Own Me Anymore" is a high point for both their singing and writing abilities »»»
Things Change CD review - Things Change
Hipsters may only consider checking out Bobby Bare's "Things Change" due to the participation of hot item Chris Stapleton, who sings on a remake of the old hit "Detroit City." Hopefully, though, they'll immediately recognize Bare's immense talent and stick around for the whole shooting match. Bare's no spring chicken anymore, but he sounds extremely good throughout this classic-sounding country effort.  »»»