In praise of the Blues

It sounds oxymoronic, but Blues music makes me happy.

I bought Steve Earle’s new album Townes on the weekend. It’s a tribute to the legendary singer songwriter Townes Van Zandt and is a series of covers of Van Zandt’s songs. If you’re a knee-jerk country music hater, you’ll hear the first twang of the banjo and scoff. That would be a pity, because it’s a magnificent, muddy, raggedly emotional ride. I broke out in a big cheesy grin the minute the electric guitar kicked in on the charcoal-y Lungs and had to play it back a second time. So, I had a good belly laugh when I later read that that electric guitar was being played by Tom Morello*. Awesome.

Won’t you lend your lungs to me?
Mine are collapsin’
Plant my feet and bitterly breathe
Up the time that’s passin’
Breath I’ll take and breath I’ll give
Pray the day ain’t poison
Stand among the ones that live
In lonely indecision

Steve Earle is such an admirer (and close friend) of Van Zandt’s that he named his kid Justin Townes Earle. I also bought Justin’s acclaimed album Midnight at the Movies. It’s good — although he’s still got a few things to learn from Dad. But definitely worth a listen.

*Morello’s the guitarist from Rage Against the Machine. Not that any of you needed me to tell you that…

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