Monday, March 3, 2008

Steve Earle in Somerville

There's so much to be said about Steve Earle's concert on Friday at Somerville Theater.

Allison Moorer, his wife, but more importantly an extraordinary talent herself opened the show. Nice surprise because it seemed everyone we talked to didn't know who was opening. I found out from the beer guy. I came back upstairs to our seats with our beer and Sue was talking to the people next to us who had heard rumors of her opening.

Moorer has a gorgous trained voice and an easy way of playing guitar. It's all sort of precise and, while I don't want to use the word academic, it's that everything about it is letter-perfect.

As opposed to Earle.

An entire acoustic set, if you can discount all the electronic wizardry that Earle uses. Even when Moorer was playing her set, I suddenly realized we were also listening to violins.

Earle is just so dynamic. So passionate. His voice is rougher, and so is his playing. While Moorer's is letter-perfect, Earle, well, as a buddy of mine said about my guitar playing, he takes liberties. But it's like listening to Lucinda Williams. Their unique voice and rough guitar playing is such a major part of what makes their music what it is, how it touches us.

He played most of Washington Square Serenade. (I'm working here: it's after hours here at the office and what the fuck is it about people and their speaker phones?) Anyway...

For his encore, one of the songs he played was from his Guitar Town album, the hillbilly tear-jerker Little Rock 'n' Roller, about a dad who's calling his little boy from a truck stop in Arkansas.

He prefaced it with a long talk about being a dad and being away from his kids when they were so little. So maybe it's a tear-jerker and maybe it's a cliche but, once again, the song has always resonated with me. You feel bad for all the things you've done, all the stupid things you've done, for the way things are because of you and there's no way you can ever go back and fix things. When people say, it's never too late, well, yes, sometimes it is too late. And sometimes things get broken that can never get fixed again, no matter what you try to do. That's life.

And it's always the kids that get hurt. Who get the brunt of things. And what's so endearing about this song is, that no matter how much the dad is hurting, it's the unspoken little child who is hurting the most.

I know you miss me, God knows I'm thinkin' 'bout you
I got your picture in my wallet, it cheers me up sometimes when I'm blue
Well little guy, I'm gonna have to let you go
You know it's way past your bedtime, and they're tellin' me we gotta roll

That last line, of the boss tearing him away from the phone like that, you can just feel the hearts ripping...

Anyway, here's a vid from YouTube where Earle is pretty much giving the whole talk that he gave in Somerville. You can see how passionate he is about things. About what he writes about. How he feels.

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