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: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xVaPwdgezWI&feature=fvwrel along with the making of the song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fK_TZY7pihU
His rockin' side: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xvaEJzoaYZk
And his best side: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lhj5Y4gG1Ss