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Song of the Day: Steve Earle's 'Ellis Unit One'

Published May 25, 2012 2:36 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

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