Steve Earle
El Corazón
Steve's song-by-song description

Steve —

This album sort of wrote itself.  It was bigger than me and faster than me and so it took me awhile to get a handle on what it was about.  Basically, it comes down to stuff I care about.  That's where the title comes from.

I always like to perform solo before I make a record.  It gives me the chance to try out new material on audiences.  The last show on the tour was in Galway (Ireland) and since I'd never spent much time there I rented a cottage by the bay to finish up the album.  It's a great spot to write as it turns out; one of those towns like Key West and Santa Fe where tourist money allows a permanent slacker population to exist. I've always been comfortable in places like that.

Christmas In Washington:  As I get older, surviving what I've survived, things have gotten realllysimple for me.  Very black and white.  I believe that it is unforgivable for people to go hungry in the richest country in the world.  I believe that we're supposed to be getting more civilised, not less, and that it doesn't make sense to take a life in payment for another life.  This song is about the state of the nation, but its also about me, too, about some of the things I've lost along the way.

Taneytown:  This song, which is graced with Emmylou Harris singing backup, is told from the point of view of a 22 year old retarded black man.  I also wrote it in the form of a short story that will be in my book.  Taneytown is a real place – you can see it on maps of The Battle Of Gettysburg – but it (the story) could reallytake place anywhere racism exists.  I took a risk writing the story and a risk doing this song and I don't claim to have it well…. But just taking the chance made it worthwhile for me.

If You Fall:  This song was written in Norway of all places.  I had a day off and I was walking around Oslo looking for a cup of coffee and I wrote the first verse on the street, right off the top of my head.  It's a real guy song where this experienced man of the world is telling his friend all the bad things that are going to happen if he gets involved with this lady and, all the time, its because he wants her himself.

I Still Carry You Around:  I wrote this song specifically to have something to play with the Del McCoury band.  They are just the best bluegrass outfit in the business right now.  Del is the best tenor, Ronnie is the best mandolin player, and Rob plays banjo like no one else.

You Know The Rest:  This song came to me in London and was one of the first I wrote for the album.  London was a place where I'd misbehaved pretty badlyin the old days.  I was holed in a hotel doing press interviews and I started writing out of sheer boredom.  The food sucks in England and I don't get high anymore so there wasn't anything else for me to do.

Telephone Road:  There's a Telephone Road in cities and towns all over the country for reasons I could never figure out.  This particular one is in Houston and was sort of a white trash strip during the '50s and '60s.  In the '70s, when the song is set, people were starting to come up from Louisiana and the area was reallybooming.  There is one small inaccuracy in the song, though.  The Texaco refinery is actuallyin Port Arthur – I just took a bit of poetic licence.  The Fairfield Four do great backing vocals on this track.

Somewhere Out There:  I need to be careful about this one.  The less said the better. It's a personal issue.

N.Y.C.:  This song is a mid-life crisis set to music.  I've reached an age where there are some things that I know I'm just not going to do.  Don't get me wrong, I've done a lot more than most people.  I like my job.  But I would like to have lived in New York for a few years and now I probablynever will.  The song is about trying to deal with that in a graceful manner.  I went to Seattle to cut some sides with The Supersuckers and this was one of them.  We didn't get to do as much as I would have liked though as I had to go back to Nashville to go to Bill Monroe's funeral.

Poison Lovers:  I wrote this one in Galway along with Telephone Road and Fort Worth Blues all in one four day period.  It was reallynuts but not so much because I was feeling pressure.  I could have gone back at any time to finish them up and I still had a couple of weeks before I was scheduled to go into the studio.  But the songs were pressuring me to get written so I was working pretty feverishly.  This was one was written especiallyto be sung with Siobhan Kennedy, who is the wife of my co-producer Ray Kennedy.  She used to be in a great Liverpool band called River City People.

The Other Side Of Town:  This is about the place everybody has where they shouldn't be going but do anyway.  And its about the reasons we go there, that sense of anonymity.  When I hung around in South Nashville, one of the reasons was because black people generally don't listen to my music and don't know who I am.

Here I Am:  This was the last song I wrote for the album.  There's always at least one manifesto on my records and I guess this is it.  Its intentionallyarrogant….. a State Of Me song.  That's my son Justin playing guitar.

Ft. Worth Blues:  I wrote this song for very personal and specific reasons that I won't go into except to say that when Townes Van Zandt died I lost a friend I'd had since I was 17 years old.  I still have a hard time imagining the rest of my life without Townes.

© 2003-2007 Clint Harris  ( – All Rights Reserved
© 1995-2003 Lisa Kemper  – All Rights Reserved

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