Song of the Day: Steve Earle's 'Ellis Unit One'
Published: May 25, 2012 02:36PM
Updated: May 25, 2012 02:36PM

I once went to a Mary Chapin Carpenter show just so I could see the opener, Steve Earle, for the first time.

He didn't disappoint (and Mary met my low expectations), and I am excited that he will be performing at Red Butte Garden this coming summer, in a double-bill with Los Lobos.

This is the first song I ever heard Earle sing, and you can see why it's arresting. "Ellis Unit One" was on the "Dead Man Walking" soundtrack, and I bought the CD to hear tracks by Springsteen, Vedder, and Waits, among others. But this was the best-written of the bunch. Obviously owing a hug debt to Springsteen's "Nebraska" album, the song is a gentle indictment of capital punishment — not as strident as some of Earle's later songs against the practice.

The song came out before his comeback album, "I Feel Alright," came out — his first since he was incarcerated for heroin:

And since it's a weekend, here are three other Earle songs to carry you through the long weekend:

His Irish side: along with the making of the song:

His rockin' side:

And his best side: