Cider Mag Winter 2015 Issue 52 - Page 44

Steve Earle Cares T By Chris Biddle here’s a scene in the fourth season of HBO’s The Wire, where the character Waylon, played by legendary American roots musician Steve Earle, tells an audience of recovering drug addicts, “I’m in here with y’all talking sh-t about how strong I am, how strong I feel, but my disease is out there in that parking lot doing pushups, on steroids, waiting for the chance to kick my ass up and down that street again.” At the end of the sentence, his voice cracks in a sort of half chuckle, half sob, and the line between character and actor blurs. It’s the sort of authenticity of experience, further conveyed in Earle’s breathlessness as his speech progresses and the tired, world-weary din of his eyes, that makes Steve Earle one of America’s greatest living artists. After a stint in lockup in the 90’s, a subsequent 44 • CIDER MAG • twenty years of uneasy sobriety, and the recent failure of Earle’s seventh marriage, the artist released Terraplane last February. The new album was recorded with Earle’s longtime backup band, the Dukes. The mostly blues record features a diverse slew of breakup songs - moving quickly from the jaunty, shoulder-shrugging “Ain’t Nobody’s Daddy Now”, to the decidedly more melancholy “Better Off Alone”. The two tracks tell the same story, but from different voices, a dichotomy of relationships which Earle explores further with “Baby’s Just as Mean as Me” and the album’s opener “Baby Baby Baby (Baby)”. It’s this tug between good and bad, the desire for everything to be just fine but the acceptance that it’s just not, that country and blues music does best. Earle nails it on this record in the way only a sea- Winter • 2015