Hurtin’ Songs

Outlaw Country ~ 1972 – 1988

Wish I’d been doing the “night shift” in Nocturnal Nashville in the winter of 1975 to experience the “all night songwriting jams”  –  passing a guitar around and trying out “our most recent creations out on each other”.  Steve Earle and a host of other songwriters appreciated Waylon Jennings –  apparently the centre of their universe was Waylon Jennings.

In real life ~  sitting (and often dancing)  in my Parent’s living room surrounded by some friends and family listening to Waylon Jennings at 1 a.m.,  is a memory I will never forget.  My Dad was introduced to this outlaw music by Norm and we all loved it!  What is it about hurting music that appeals to so many different walks of life.  I always believe that when you’re hurting ~ emotionally and particularly financially;  and maybe you feel like your life is going nowhere, or it’s stalled ~  hurting lyrics make so much sense.  There was an attitude that somehow they understood the common “man” (woman).  “Generally blowing all of my hard earned pay…I danced holes in my shoes.”   “same old tune fiddling’ guitar, where do we take it from here ~ rhinestone suits and new shiny shoes.”…..Rock solid beat.  Thumping drums and gonna do it their way. “I’ve always been crazy but it’s kept me from going insane”.  “Take it Home.”

All you have to do is google Waylon Jennings on youtube to experience what I’m talking about.  Kids loved him and so did their parents –   One fellow wrote “grew up with this stuff as a kid in the mid 70’s to early 80’s. My Dad always had those 33’s cranked up. Still listen to them to this day. Hank, Waylon, Haggard, Willie…simpler times! I wish this country was simple like it was back in those days.”  “I hear ya Waylon.”  “I think I bought this album on cassette at Wall Drug South Dakota when it first came out – still remember taking the tape cassette off the rotunda in the store. I was bringing a load to Alaska and listened to this “tape” the whole way home to Anchorage. This song still gives me goose bumps when I listen to it, 30 some years later now. Wont ever be another Waylon or Man In Black. Godspeed gentlemen, you are missed.” from an Alaskan trucker.

Steve Earle dedicated  his latest (2017)  album, “So you Wannabe an Outlaw”; to Waylon Jennings and credits Jennings with a huge musical  influence as a leader and mentor in the late night bars.   These musical outlaws wanted to reshape Music City in “their own individual images.”  There was a rebellion happening against the corporatization of music – everybody telling them what to do.  Nashville wanted a certain look and they weren’t having it.  Sounds a lot like the war cry of marginalized and disenfranchised people all over the world.  Reminds me of transcendentalism and my own rebellion against the corporatization of education.

Academy Theatre in Lindsay last night hosted Steve Earle and The Dukes to a packed house.  A huge group of individuals from all over the county in jeans, jumpsuits, t-shirts, crocks,  boots and leather jackets responded to his embodiment of the outlaw.  At one point Steve said to the crowd “I don’t give a fuck what people think of me”.  I think this woeful cry mimics what many of us start to think.  He continued “I am my own person and I do what I want”.

The message was clear ~ “you could hear the whiskey burning down Copperhead Road”.    The celebration of not giving a dam and speaking the honest truth about a number of topics.  Steve Earle is hardly a right wing outlaw guy; he is quite left in his thinking and he makes that pretty clear in his lyrics and writings.


Everybody told me you won’t get far on $37 and a Jap guitar.  He shouted, “WATCH!”

I loved it.





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