I wasn’t planning to post today, but I just saw that Justin Townes Earle died. The news came out yesterday, apparently, but I am not sure exactly when he died. No cause of death is given, but Justin Townes Earle was about my age, and when men about my age die it is usually of a drug overdose. He is named for Townes Van Zandt, the singer-songwriter who died young of substance abuse related issues, is the son of Steve Earle, who has had his own substance abuse issues, and has had substance abuse issues in the past.
“When I get to Heaven, I’m going to shake God’s hand,
Thank him for more blessings, than one man can stand.”
Our first country music COVID-19-related death came at the end of last month when Joe Diffie died. Our second came last week when John Prine died. The two sat at opposite ends of country music. Diffie had several radio hits during the pinnacle of country radio in the 90s. Prine was a quintessential singer/songwriter with roots in the folk scene.
Johnny Cash put him in his songwriting Big 4, along with Rodney Crowell, Guy Clark, and Steve Goodman. He co-write You Never Even Called Me By My Name with Goodman but refused to take a songwriting credit. He got more attention for writing Angel From Montgomery.
This is the peppiest damn song about the potentially fatal effects of alcohol withdrawal you will ever hear. Apropos of nothing, as we approach NYE.
It’s hard to believe I have quasi-successfully shepherded a tiny human through an entire year of life (well, a year after my wife did all the work for the first nine months of her life). no-angel is sweet and silly. Weirdly so, given her people on both sides run more to dour and ornery. She is a mountain of a baby, tough as nails, and has the strong, careful hands of a skilled tradesbaby. She is also known to rock a side pony.
The very first artist featured for Music Monday was Steve Earle. How could I resist when he wrote a song called Hillbilly Highway?
Out today: Guy by Steve Earle. Earle has recorded an album of Guy Clark songs as a tribute to his mentor.
The Cactus Blossoms are a brother-brother Americana duo from Minnesota. I neglected to highlight their latest album on Friday, a failure I feel must be rectified.
Out today: Easy Way by The Cactus Blossoms.
We live in a mean, unfair world where sometimes it feels like the most outlaw thing you can do is ask a good woman to marry you and raise a family.
It’s been ten years this month since I met the woman who I join in a mutual pact of honest construction, so we took no-angel to Chicago to show her where her daddy asked her mama to marry him. (The smoky bar where we met is long gone, sadly.)
I can’t afford to buy half the albums I would like to, but when I realized all of October passed without buying any albums, I knew I had to pick up a couple. I am just one in a long line of hillbillies who headed up those hillbilly highways to the Rust Belt for work. With snow maybe on the horizon this weekend, I decided to pick up the—damned good—recently released albums by the Michigan Rattlers and Whitey Morgan, from northern Michigan and Flint, respectively, even if those hillbilly highways took them south.
It’s always good to see musicians coming out of the southern Appalachian Mountains. Americana band The Black Lillies hails from Knoxville, Tennessee.
Out tomorrow: Stranger to Me by The Black Lillies.
I took my first trip to Houston in high school to visit my dad at M.D. Anderson. He died at the famed cancer hospital a few days later. Fate would take me back to Houston over a decade later, and we would buy our first house smack halfway between M.D. Anderson and Telephone Road.