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

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 »»»
The Low Highway CD review - The Low Highway
If you're a forever smitten fan of Steve Earle who's always looking forward to his next record, you'll likely be satisfied with "The Low Highway." It's a 12-song collection of strong songs, all stamped with his signature sound. The title cut is a beautiful, world-weary ballad that narrates a trip along the highways and byways of America. Over a gently rocking beat, Earle crosses paths with empty houses, hungry people and broken factories, a bleak picture that belies »»»
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: MerleFest Opening Night Showcases Both New and Familiar Artists – Long running North Carolina roots music festival MerleFest is a family friendly affair that has proven to have appeal to different generations. The lineup for Thursday's opening night, then, could be seen as a mirror to that audience as it contained artists ranging from multiple-year veterans of the festival down to first-year rookies.... »»»
Concert Review: No joke, The Wacos return – The Clash may have ended their run decades ago, but one couldn't blame Joe Strummer - if able to listen from the grave - that his band is alive and well. Only now he'd have to think they were reincarnated as The Waco Brothers. And Strummer needn't worry about whether the long running Chicago band is up to snuff either.... »»»
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

Reams leaps into "Rhyme & Season" James Reams is one of bluegrass music's unconventional stalwarts. A son of Kentucky, Reams' journey has taken any number of unusual pathways since the mid-seventies. Producing albums for more than 20 years, Reams' ninth release of personable bluegrass, "Rhyme and Season," is a relaunch for Reams, an artist who has never followed a singular route. ... »»»
Solivan  turns to family, friends, heroes After scoring a 2015 IBMA nomination for Best Bluegrass Album for "Cold Spell," Frank Solivan tried something a little different this time around - an album of songs recorded by "Family, Friends and Heroes" (Compass). In an earlier musical life, Solivan served as stalwart in Country Current, the Navy's touring bluegrass band. Solivan left the service and formed Dirty Kitchen, a hat-tip to his background and continuing efforts as a chef.... »»»
Sellers garages her country Aubrie Sellers just may be onto something on her debut - garage country. After all, we've already witnessed traditional country, new country, neo-traditional, country rock, pop country and bro country. Sellers, a 25-year-old Nashvillian with a big time musical pedigree who released her debut, "New City Blues," in January, said the moniker came to mind as her bio was being written.... »»»
Del and Woody CD review - Del and Woody
For two years we've been hearing of this recording, a project where original lyrics from Woody Guthrie were to be reinvented as bluegrass songs by the legendary Del McCoury. Like previous sets from Billy Bragg & Wilco (3 volumes of "Mermaid Avenue" released between 1998-2012), Jay Farrar, et al ("New Multitudes," 2012) and The Klezmatics (a pair of 2006 releases), lyrics stored within the Woody Guthrie Archives were turned over to McCoury to be repurposed. »»»
Empty Glasses CD review - Empty Glasses
Coming on the heels of her last album, the tellingly titled "Quicksand," Reagan Boggs' latest continues to affirm her reputation as a master of emotion, a performer whose sound and delivery leave no sentiment unturned. Consequently, "Empty Glasses" becomes an equally expressive handle, given that much of the album bears a deliberately downcast disposition. That can also be discerned by reading the names of certain songs -- "Honey I'm Lost"...  »»»
Lovers and Leavers CD review - Lovers and Leavers
A style and sound can be deceptive. So it's little surprise that with his parched vocals, weary demeanor and songs that bear a sense of worn, ragged reflection, Hayes Carll doesn't come across like a man with an ample list of accomplishments. A recent Grammy nomination, a number of chart triumphs and some highly impressive accolades from the public and pundits alike suggest that Carll might be doing far better than he lets on. »»»
The Family Album CD review - The Family Album
Two siblings joining forces for an album project. For every precious collaboration from Stacey Earle on a Steve Earle tune, you can end up with other tandems whose work is pure schmaltz. Thankfully for those familiar with Canadian singer-songwriters Matthew Barber and Jill Barber, their playful, innocent sibling rivalry has been set aside for "The Family Album," an extremely sweet, stellar result. »»»
Upland Stories CD review - Upland Stories
Twenty years ago, Robbie Fulks became a beloved alt.-country figure by writing modern honky tonk and country songs that rose above the work of many other contemporary traditionalists thanks to a combination of sharp wit and engaging storytelling. In 2013, Fulks gained critical acclaim for "Gone Away Backward," an album that took a deeper dive into history by embracing the traditional Appalachian folk music  »»»
Bridging the Tradition CD review - Bridging the Tradition
There aren't a lot of bluegrass bands that can boast that they've lasted more than a quarter-century on the national scene, but the history of the Lonesome River Band as one of the most competent and dependable bands in the business goes back to the late 1980s. Banjo player Sammy Shelor's tenure doesn't go back quite that far, having joined "only" in 1990, but for the past 15 years, he's been the leader and front man. »»»