Cheap Jerusalem (Music) (Steve Earle) Price
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On 1997's El Corazón, Steve Earle wished for the return of Woody Guthrie to a world sorely lacking voices of righteous dissent. Here, Earle stops pining for ghosts and gruffly makes his own claim to the agit-folk crown. The controversial "John Walker's Blues" drew attention to the album and the ire of many who misunderstood it, but it's only one of many topical tunes on a disc that issues a kind of call to arms: over the distorted guitars and garbage-pail drums of "Amerika v. 6.0" and in the spare and creepy satire "Conspiracy Theory," Earle rallies listeners to resist such corrosive cultural forces as consumerism, xenophobia, and apathy. And as Earle's songs often do, several cuts offer sympathetic portrayals of folks on the margins: a busted Mexican migrant writes a letter home as organ chirps and guitars blaze through "What's a Simple Man to Do?" and in "The Truth," Earle's fuzzed-out drawl depicts life behind bars. Though nearly every moment of this ambitious album is laden with meaning, there's room enough for simple beauty--like the velvet voice of Emmylou Harris on "I Remember You"--and, more importantly, hope. "I believe there'll come a day," Earle affirms in the closing track, "when the lion and the lamb will lie down in peace together in Jerusalem." --Anders Smith Lindall
| ARTIST: || Steve Earle |
| CATEGORY: || Music |
| MANUFACTURER: || Artemis Records |
| TYPE: || Pop, Rock |
| MEDIA: || Audio CD |
| TRACKS: || Ashes To Ashes, Amerika v. 6.0 (The Best We Can Do), Conspiracy Theory, John Walker's Blues, The Kind, What's A Simple Man To Do?, The Truth, Go Amanda, I Remember You, Shadowland, Jerusalem |
| # OF MEDIA: || 1 |
| UPC: || 699675114725 |
Customer Review of Jerusalem
Steve Earle's Finest Hour
There has been massive criticism coupled with "musical hysteria," concerning the song "John Walker's Blues." Way before the CD titled "Jerusalem" was released, DJs and music critics alike were sitting in judgment of Steve Earle's patriotism. Because the song is written from the perspective of John Walker Lindh, an American youth who recently pleaded guilty to assisting the Taliban in Afghanistan, many spoke Earle's name in the same breath with traitor. "It celebrates and glorifies a traitor to this country," screamed Steve Gill, morning host on WTN-FM. He and others DJ's around the country called for a boycott of the album. With no airplay and lack of availability at stores, their mission would be successful.
What has been pushed to the wayside is the following burning question: Is the song any good or is it just another lame attempt at marketing a dull CD? The answer is simple. This particular tune, though controversial, is good, the CD damn good, and there is a great big difference between explaining a person's actions and just glorifying them. Steve Earle has many better songs on his current release "Jerusalem," especially the hauntingly beautiful duet with none other than EmmyLou Harris during "I Remember You." Nevertheless, it is the track of "John Walker's Blues" that will continue to draw the most attention to this CD. Earle presents Walker's views without passing any kind of judgment. He becomes the troubled young man, searching for answers to questions that he is unable to find in American ideology. Earle stands in Lindh's shoes and views the world from his eyes only. Steve has done this many times before in his long career. He has become a convicted murderer, ready to take that long walk, "the green mile," to the electric chair in "Billy Austin." He is a coal miner, at times lost in his own despair, on the acclaimed CD "The Mountain," recorded with bluegrass greats The Del McCoury Band. Becoming the subject of tunes is nothing new for Earle, just his own way of telling the story and making his art work.
"What Earle is doing is what good songwriters...and good poets have been doing for a hundred years, which is trying to get inside and understand the motivations of people who may not be particularly popular right now," said Charles Wolfe, a popular-music scholar at Middle Tennessee State University. "There's nothing all that unique about Earle's song," he continues, "except that emotions about the Taliban are very strong right now." Earle himself has backed up Wolfe's opinion by stating the following in a press release:
"I don't condone what he (Lindh) did. I'm trying to make clear that wherever he got to, he didn't arrive there in a vacuum...my son Justin is almost exactly Walker's age." Here lies the key to Earle's motivation for writing such an emotional grabbing number. The singer uses his scratchy, ragged drawl to create a bleak picture of an unquestioning belief that eventually led to dire consequences:
"We came to fight the Jihad.....as death filled the air....
And prepared for our martyrdom. But Allah has some other plan...
Now they're draggin me back, With my hands in a sack
To the land of the infidel."
Calling America the "infidel" here is the exact reason that many have reacted with outrage. However, it is a colossal mistake to confuse Steve Earle's personal views with his lyrical references. He has called "Jerusalem" "....the most pro-American record in my entire career." Questioning the idea that politicians deserve our undying support, when it comes to serious issues (like terrorism), is very American to Earle. The 'blind faith' of many over zealous so-called patriots is what seems to scare Earle the most these days. He laments in "Amerika v.6.0 (The Best We Can Do)":
"I remember when we was...talkin' revolution...
Nowadays letters to the editor and cheatin' on our taxes
is the best that we can do."
Doing what he has done best since the impact of "Guitar Town" in 1985, Steve Earle has been a vital force in American music. Always unafraid to broach sensitive issues, from murder and the death penalty to drug dealing, he continues to make those who will listen, THINK and QUESTION. Instead of taking the safe, sappy route of mainstream Nashville, he approaches issues that are unpopular to address, but necessary. While the goal of many current artists is simply to sell lots of product and make tons of money, Steve Earle makes music that is relevant, poignant and vital. His artistic integrity has never been stronger or more intact than with this current release.
Jerusalem is one amazing song!
I like everything Steve Earle does. So it comes as no surprise that I like this album too. But the one song that stands out above all others for me is "Jerusalem." If you have any interest whatsoever in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict this song plumbs it to the depths. Almost no singer-songwriters (except Israelis) have attempted to write about the conflict & I feel enormous gratitude to Earle for taking the subject on and doing it such justice.
I love Steve Earl...
Words can not describe the greatness of this album. Wow! Simply breathtaking.
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