Sunday, June 30, 2013

Steve Earle - Copperhead Road

As a country roots rocker in the 1980's, Steve Earle had a challenging time fitting in, not unlike John Hiatt.  Earle was critically acclaimed and flirted with success on both the country and rock charts but ultimately never quite broke through.  However, he recorded a bunch of great music and gradually developed a modest but loyal following.

Earle's 1988 release Copperhead Road was represented a clear break from the more country-oriented sound that preceded it.  A combination of frustration over the Nashville music scene and his liberal politics may have driven the change.  In any event, the result was a unique and really solid country-rock album that reached #56 on the charts.  The single "Copperhead Road" is a classic roots rock storytelling song, and it received some radio airplay at the time.

The video does a fine job of telling the song's story about moonshine, Vietnam and drugs, with a decidedly anti-authoritarian slant.  (I particularly like the intro.) 

In the aftermath of Copperhead Road, Earle's career deteriorated, primarily due to drug use.  His 1990 CD, The Hard Way, is not viewed as one of his better efforts, and he then mostly disappeared from view for several years.  However, he returned to the industry (cleaner) in 1995 and has carved out a solid and interesting path since then.  For readers who are interested, 1986's Guitar Town and 1996's I Feel Alright are especially strong.  ERV also posted an earlier effort, "I Ain't Ever Satisfied" in January 2014.

Earle remains active in the industry as of this writing.


  1. Thanks for posting this. It was quite a surprise!
    I'm a Big Steve Earle fan.
    After buying Guitar Town I was hooked.
    Even bought earlier recordings before Guitar Town.
    Have seen him many times in concert. Mixed results...
    Yet, always worth seeing/hearing.
    All the best.

    1. Thanks, Sam, glad to know that ERV can surprise even our most loyal readers! More cool and rare stuff coming ... stay tuned.

  2. One of the most ass kicking songs ever

    1. Glad that you liked it -- I am a big fan of "I Ain't Ever Satisfied" as well (Link is above if you haven't seen it).