When Little Steven kicked off his tour in New Jersey to promote his new album Soulfire, it may not have been a big surprise that Bruce Springsteen joined him on stage. But it was still pretty awesome for the two to perform “It’s Been a Long Time” together. They look like they’re having a lot of fun with Steve as the front man too.
The song originally appeared on the 1991 album by Southside Johnny & the Ashbury Jukes, Better Days. The wonderful album is worth tracking down. The album includes songs by Steven Van Zandt, a.k.a. Little Steven (and Miami Steve), as well as vocal contributions by both him and Springsteen.
The original “It’s Been a Long Time” recording featured Springsteen, Van Zandt, and Southside Johnny. It was the perfect song for the three, reflecting on their youth at the Jersey shore: “We lived in a time and a world of our own,/ Making up the rules as we went along.” Van Zandt, who wrote the song, features it on his new album Soulfire.
Some of the lines in the chorus about lost comrades seem even more poignant now that Clarence Clemons and Danny Federici of the E Street Band have passed away. But the song remains a celebration of both the past and the future. It’s been a long time since we laughed together; It’s been a long time since we cried; Raise your glass for the comrades we’ve lost; My friend it’s been a long, long time.
The performance of Springsteen and Little Steven with the Disciples of Soul is from May 27, 2017 at the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, New Jersey.
The Texan has created some wonderful songs through his career. He often captures the sadness of life while also showing a good sense of humor. Rolling Stone says that the songs on the new album “reinforce Cleaves’ reputation as a master storyteller, one influenced not by the shine of pop-culture but by the dirt of real life.”
Ghost on the Car Radio includes the song “Drunken Barber’s Hand,” which Cleaves co-wrote with Rod Picott. The singer in the song has seen a lot of the world, having had good and bad fortune: “I’ve drowned in the pull of young love / Known the high and the hurt.” But at the end, he knows there is something wrong with the world.
I don’t need to read the papers, Or the tea leaves to understand, That this world’s been shaved, By a drunken barber’s hand.
The pessimism and the drunken barber reference connects to the political situation of the world. Rolling Stone has noted the song alludes to W.B. Yeats’ “The Second Coming” (“Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; / Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.”).
Below is the video for “Drunken Barber’s Hand.”
Another song on the album is “Primer Gray.” Here, Cleaves performs the song at Southgate House Revival in Newport, Kentucky on October 18, 2016.
Ghost on The Car Radio hits the Internet on June 23, 2017.
What is your favorite Slaid Cleaves song? Leave your two cents in the comments.
Nehemiah Curtis James was born on June 9, 1902 in in Bentonia, Mississippi. But he became famous as a blues guitarist-singer-songwriter named Skip James.
James first recorded “Hard Time Killing Floor Blues” and other songs in 1931. The recordings, however, did not sell well record buyers lacked disposable income during The Great Depression. So, James gave up performing for awhile.
In the early 1960s, though, blues fans rediscovered James. And he began recording and performing again until he died in Philadelphia on October 3, 1969
Below, Skip James performs “Hard Time Killing Floor Blues” American Folk and Blues Festival in Cologne, Germany on October 9, 1967.
One of my favorite albums is Willie Nelson’s Across the Borderline, which includes his wonderful version of the title track. Recently, I ran across this gem of Willy DeVille covering the song.
Jim Dickinson, John Hiatt, and Ry Cooder wrote “Across the Borderline.” That’s a pretty good pedigree. And it helps explain why brilliant artists like Nelson and DeVille have covered it.
So, for today, check out “Across the Borderline” by the late Willy DeVille, who passed away in 2009.
Although most people recognize DeVille’s voice from the theme to The Princess Bride (which he co-wrote with Mark Knopfler), he had a long and diverse career as a solo artist and leading the band Mink DeVille.
Steve Earle & The Dukes will be releasing a new album, So You Wannabe An Outlaw. While I have enjoyed Earle’s recent forays into folk and blues, I am excited to hear that the album will be a return to a focus on his country sound. The album is a tribute to the 1970s Outlaw sound of singers like Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings.
Speaking of Willie Nelson, he also makes a guest appearance on the album, as do Miranda Lambert and Johnny Bush. So You Wannabe An Outlaw will hit stores and the Internet on June 16, 2017.
For a preview of Earle’s Outlaw tribute, you may hear one of the new tracks below. Check out “Lookin’ for a Woman.”
Another track from the new album is “Fixin’ to Die.” It has a harder edge with a rock sound.
Finally, here is a live performance of the title track, “So You Wannabe an Outlaw.” This performance is from a Town Hall performance in New York City in December 2016. Note that Earle jokes about having Willie Nelson singing on the song. He did get Nelson to sing on the album version of the song.
A deluxe version of the album will also include covers of songs by Nelson, Jennings, and Billy Joe Shaver. So keep your ear out for the upcoming June 16 release of So You Wannabe An Outlaw, and watch for Earle in the Dukes, who will be touring this summer.
What is your favorite Steve Earle song? Leave your two cents in the comments.