A Cautious Man
March 18, 2005
 
"And If You Sing Loud Enough ..."
At the last minute, the Cautious Spouse and I decided to go to Steve Earle's show last night. We had a great time, of course. The venue seemed to be sort of an over-sized roadhouse – perfect for a Steve Earle performance. It was in a part of New Jersey (a.k.a. way in the middle of nowhere) where I had not ventured before. I guess I'm not the only one, since while I believe his performance tonight in New York is sold out, we had no trouble getting in last night. As a matter of fact, when Mr. Earle ambled onto the stage before the start, he grinningly said, "Welcome to the secret show!"

If you're not familiar with his music, remedy that. Mr. Earle is a talented writer and performer, whose shows veer through rock, country and bluegrass sounds, with songs of love, lost love, peace, justice, and having a good time. I suppose he may be the suburbanite's favorite rebel (yours truly is an example of that), and he's got us pegged, as in his song Amerika v. 6.0:
Look at ya
Yeah, take a look in the mirror now tell me what you see
Another satisfied customer in the front of the line for the American dream
I remember when we was both out on the boulevard
Talkin' revolution and singin' the blues
Nowadays it's letters to the editor and cheatin' on our taxes
Is the best that we can do
I think he's earned that following with work that compels honest looks at some significant issues. I know that some may belittle the notion of a religiously-based social justice agenda (e.g., opposition to unjust war, opposition to the death penalty, and support for peace, justice, unions and a living wage for workers), but for those who do not, you can find all these themes and similar ones in Mr. Earle's music.

We last saw him on Halloween, at Webster Hall in NYC, just before the election. As you can imagine, when he exhorted the crowd to sing as if they could change the world, there was a sense that a change was actually imminent. His post-election spirit is still unbowed ("The thing you have to remember about an ass-whuppin', is that it's only an ass-whuppin'", as he noted last night). He cited Woody Guthrie for the principle that you don't stop a war by listening to music, you stop it by singing. That means, to me, that no matter what you want, you have to do something to make it happen. And sitting around, feeling sorry or dejected, is not the way to act, even now.

As I said, we had a great time, with some great music from a great performer (it was Saint Patrick's Day, and he did do Galway Girl). Sure, one night or one song by itself won't change the world, but they can be replicated over and over. And then, who knows?

[Edited to add] I forgot to remind you - "F the CC!"

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