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2023 Albums Thing 124 - Steve Earle “Washington Square Serenade”

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There are huge holes in my Steve Earle record collection, I was in CD/download mode during most of these releases. I’ve got a notion to collect all the albums with Tony Fitzpatrick sleeves and this is one of those. Released in 2007, my copy is a 2020 re-issue on sparkly gold vinyl, “Washington Square Serenade” was Steve Earle’s 12th studio album. By now you know what you’re getting with a Steve Earle record, out on the fringes of “country” music with an eye on societies injustices but still able to conjure a great love song when required.

In part this album is about Earle leaving Nashville (the titular “Guitar Town” of his 1986 debut album) and relocating to New York. It starts right up front in “Tennessee Blues" when he sings "Won't be back no more, boss, you won't see me around, Goodbye, Guitar Town”; "Down Here Below" chronicles the haves in their skyscraping penthouses seen beside the have-nots living down in the subway; "City of Immigrants”, recorded with NY Brazilian ex-pat group Forro in the Dark, celebrates NY’s global make up. Elsewhere “Days Aren’t Long Enough” is a cool duet sung with his (then) wife Allison Moorer and the album finishes on a cover of Tom Waits “Way Down In The Hole”, used as the theme tune to series 5 of “The Wire” in which Earle had a recurring role as a drug counsellor (!) in three series of the show.

“Washington Square Serenade” is not Steve Earle’s greatest album, if you’re curious about his stuff it’s not where you wanna start, but I like what he does so it’s all good with me. I really do need to fill those holes tho’.

Days Aren’t Long Enough - https://youtu.be/LClZO4E_hcQ

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