Photos by Mark Smith
The Sellersville Theater is a great venue to see and hear a show. Steve Earle started the show with a few words about his late friend and fellow songwriter, Greg Trooper, who passed away a few days before the show, and one of Trooper’s songs, “Little Sister.” Earle then followed with a couple of songs from another friend and one of his teachers, Guy Clark, who passed away earlier in 2016.
Earle then proceeded to a night of his own songs, with a Townes tune or two thrown in. From his recent Terraplane album, Earle sang “Your The Best Lover That I Ever Had,” and followed with “My Old Friend The Blues” from Guitar Town, a much earlier album. I knew we were in for a ride across time with some great songs from the Steve Earle catalog.
“Tom Ames’ Prayer” was introduced with an explanation that it was an example of a song a 20- year-old would write, then followed it with a song he said he would write at 60, “God is God,” from the recent I’ll Never Get Out Of This World Alive; then told the audience that it was his 62nd birthday.
A great storyteller in song or in speech, Earle told about being from Schertz, TX, and how he didn’t realize until he was 27 that there was another way to get to Nashville from Texas besides hitchhiking. He then told of hitching home one Christmas and getting left off at the Schertz exit and even though he knew his parents didn’t live there anymore. He went straight to his former home; in Schertz, he said, the police were the only ones who remembered him.
Earle then got to what he called “the chick song” part of the program, explaining that he wasn’t a jock, so he sang songs that would get girls. He recounted that after some of his relationships, all he was left with was a song—and actually, all his songs are really about him. Not surprisingly, the last song of the set was “Copperhead Road.”
Now for the political part of the program: the encore. Actually, I have never seen anything like it before. With a mellow guitar cord progression for background Earle explained how our country wasn’t created with a revolution of the people. It was a revolution by rich farmers who didn’t want to pay their taxes and wanted to keep their slaves. He went on to say how the race question keeps coming up is because slavery is a basic part of our heritage. He spoke about its being a historic time in our history and that we have to be prepared to fight for what we think is right. Singing is a form of fighting, he said, and Earle announced his intention to suit up and fight. He then ended the show with his song “Christmas In Washington”
Great night, Great show, Great music, horrible weather….three out of four is pretty damn good.
—Mark J. Smith