It’s before my time but I’ve been told
He never come back from Copperhead Road
I was already a Steve Earle fan, right from the opening chords of “Guitar Town” in 1986. The haunting “bagpipe” intro and the ringing mandolin chords of “Copperhead Road” made me a Steve Earle obsessive. There was an almost frenzied edge to the album, which Steve called “heavy metal bluegrass” and Rolling Stone called “power twang.” That desperate edge suited me down to the bone in that year of 1988.
I was living in a basement apartment in Berkeley, California, working a dumb-ass sales job to pay the rent with my graduate student fiancée. And the wheels were coming off. A relationship that I thought was the future was already the past. I knew it in my guts, though my head and heart weren’t ready to come to grips with that cold fact.
Maybe I was trying to tell myself something, prowling the highways and byways of the Bay Area at night, snarling along with Mr. Earle.
You got no place to fall
When your back’s to the wall
The whole thing went in the ditch and I took a bad liver and a broken heart back to Southern California. There were a couple of wild years in there for an angry young man — with a soundtrack of Steve Earle and Guns ‘n’ Roses (interestingly, Steve’s third wife was the A&R rep who discovered GnR).
Here we are, 30 years down the road. Both Steve and I have our shit together, more or less. Sober, but still rockin’. Steve Earle & the Dukes are taking Copperhead Road out on the road for a 30th anniversary tour, playing the whole album through — and then some.
When they announce a West Coast leg on that tour, I’ll be there, singing along, every song, word for word.