Washington Square Serenade

By Collum, Danny Duncan | U.S. Catholic, June 2008 | Go to article overview

Washington Square Serenade


Collum, Danny Duncan, U.S. Catholic


WASHINGTON SQUARE SERENADE

Steve Fade (New West, 2007)

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Steve Earle is, without question, the most overtly political artist in American popular culture. For a long time his activism (and songwriting) focused on his opposition to the death penalty. But shortly after the invasion of Afghanistan, he wrote a sympathetic ballad about John Walker Lindh (the American Taliban), and he only got more pointed and confrontational from there.

In Washington Square Serenade Earle's politics are in the background. "Down Here Below" works out a chilling analogy between a predatory bird and America's lords of commerce. And "Steve's Hammer" promises that he will keep singing "angry songs" until "there ain't no hunger" But a good half of the 12 tracks muse upon the contentment that has snuck up on him in his midlife marriage to fellow songwriter Allison Moorer.

Ever since his emergence with the country hit "Guitar Town" in 1986, Earle has confidently straddled the line between country and rock. …

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