Steve Earle – Copperhead Road

The following words concern the first half of Copperhead Road:

Will Steve Earle save the world? The first song here has bagpipes, fiddle, (slow) metal guitar, is acoustic guitar led, and it’s a fucking storytelling song about moonshiners slash pot runners that fits a motherfucking line dance? And it’s awesome! Jesus Christ! Unbefuckinglievable. It’s hard to see a more incongruous marriage working. Just wow. Early himself called it bluegrass hard rock and uh…hard to argue. It goes slow, it goes fast, it spans generations, it’s fucking awesome. And that’s just the first song!

The rest of the album does the same thing almost as well. It’s amazing. There’s a fantastic anti-gun song, an anti-politician, a rambling homelessy song, and a soldier song (that’s not even explicitly anti-war). Don’t be fooled by the little opening of “Snake Oil,” this album is the best and only synthesis of country and rock ever made. It took a true renaissance man to make it happen, to marry the Ozarks with Los Angeles, but fucked if he doesn’t do it. And all while being addicted to both cocaine and heroin! This album fucks my ass so hard I’m not shitting right for months, if ever.

I mean, what is cockiness? These songs are legit, they aren’t pretentious or anything, but you just know that he knows that he’s made something more original, more interesting, more awesome than you will make in your life. He’s not saying, he’s just saying, he’s Steve fucking Earle and he can do whatever the fuck he wants. He makes old-fashioned barrelhouse piano sound badass. He makes hating guns way tougher than shooting them, and that’s fucking something. Every song is catchy and yet kicks your ass and yet is twangy, somehow. God, it doesn’t make sense. Ever seen that pale blue dot picture? How we’re so small and nothing matters? Well, the title track and “Devil’s Right Hand” and “Johnny Come Lately.” Aliens could ask us what we’ve done with ourselves and we could show them these songs. “Yes, we have awful things in our world…and this is how our artists have dealt with them.” These are stories and they’re wonderful and yet they make us nod our heads and smile so hard we get tears in our eyes. Mozart’s great too, but contemporary? These songs kick us all in the guts and make us better people. This is the apotheosis of Nashville country meet big-city political intelligence. Darwin bless Steve Earle!

Not a dull moment, except for the overly lengthy fade-out of “Johnny Come Lately”. A masterpiece.

10 / 10

The following words concern the second half of Copperhead Road:

Um, what the hell fuck shit? This is like a sweaty, dangling ballsack: bad. The first line is “I’ve always heard that love is blind”, and it only gets dumber and fatter. This side is, actually, four unmemorable love songs and one treacly, impossible-to-love song about Jesus. No, really. AAAGH. It’s worse than you think even if you think about the holocaust. At least the holocaust ended! We get to hear this shitty album forever. Lucky us.

The songs go on forever, and the only worthwhile part is the chorus of “You Belong To Me”, a decent song that nobody gives a shit about. Dude had to get off the drugs or something, because they weren’t helping his damned songwriting.

Wow, these songs suck. Just a bunch of filler with nothing to make it all better, not even a thrown bone except one dumbly catchy chorus. They even get worse as the side goes on, like he was hoping we’d turn it off and start over. I know it’s hard to write songs, but buddy, the cheeseass keyboards at the start of “Waiting On You” sound like bad Elton John. “Once You Love” sounds like the devil vomiting on humanity, and “Only A Child” sounds like a musical artist recording an ill-advised Christmas song. Good Lord, nobody cares about hey-seuss, at least not when you put in this way. Congratulations, you made Lifehouse sound deep. And I used to loe you agggggghhhhh. An ex of mine is getting married and bragged on Facebook about how big the ring is and said “come on, ladies, you know it’s important.” I feel the same aghast disgust and shock towards the last three songs here. It’s like Early Steve decided to go for a wacky new market (of shit). I don’t even know what to say anymore, it’s so bad. You don’t believe me that it’s as bad as I say. But it’s worse. You think I’m kidding, yeah? You think there’s no way an album could be either that good or this bad, yeah? It’s true. Listen and see. Listen and see. It is both that good and that bad, like a dam from the perspectives of farmers and fish.

But come on, the song about the birth of Jesus starts with “once upon a time in a far off land” and yet hs backup singers and violins like it’s a good song or something. And maybe he thought it was. But fuck, he was WAY off.


3 / 10

Look, it’s not that great and not that good, and I’m perhaps too drunk to be articulate, and perhaps rarely articulate when sober and thus nearly hopeless, but look, what are we looking for in life? Do we prefer the consistently decent over the brilliant fuck-up? Do we support our friends for their great qualities and help them when they’re in trouble?

Don’t we seek the sublime in art? I think we do. Art is about brilliant moments, not sustained genius. The modern rock song is a singular entity, one that is perfected maybe ten times per year per world. There’s no time for nonsense like criticism. Life takes a long time, but we’re pretty for such a short time and we have to go go go or else be admin assistants forever. A great love for a year alone! A breath of freedom for a breath of water! Love instead of mediocrity! Great quotes if it takes cliches! Try try try! Great music even if not very much of it! Damnit kiddies, you’ve got to be kind!

8 / 10


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