Cover of the Week 16 Valentine’s Day

I’m posting next week’s cover a few days early, as it is timely: a cover of Steve Earle’s aching “Valentine’s Day.”

Steve has put out so much music over the years that it is difficult to keep up. He is one of those artists whom I feel guilty about not keeping completely up with, as I think he is one of our great songwriter’s. But Feel Alright and El Corazon are two mid-career albums to start with.

Steve’s travails have been well-documented. He has had a hard paper route, as my wife might say in all of her Southern-Jersey-ness (Jersocity?). He has been married about 32 times. We had a publicist at some point late in the 1990s who had been wife #30, I believe. Either way, when Steve pens lines like, “I know that I swore that I wouldn’t forget/I wrote it all down/I lost it I guess,” you know he isn’t just being cute, clever, taking on a character; he is this guy. And just in case you don’t believe it from my rendition, go buy his original recording. Mine only hints at the depth of emotion in the song.

We had the honor to play with Steve as well as Ricki Lee Jones (Whose first few records still kill me) in Austin at SXSW a couple of years back. Steve was just sitting backstage with us talking guitars with Tommy Maginnis. Oh yeah, and another hero, John Doe was back there too. And if you think I’m name dropping, you’re damned straight. That and a bunch of songs and some good friends are the most I have gotten from being in a band. A chance to play with Ricki Lee and Steve Earle in Austin while the ever-gracious John Doe sips beer with us? Tell me you wouldn’t tell the tale as well. At this point in my life, such is the gravy.

[Update 2019: Got to open a show and sing a song with Steve at the City Winery in Boston in 2018, one of the gratfiying things that happened that year.

My review from years ago

9 thoughts on “Cover of the Week 16 Valentine’s Day”

  1. I got a copy of the board from Pauly at the First Act show so I was thinking of this song this morning and wondering if it would make it in to the mix Saturday. Good stuff. Especially your introduction to the tune. Remember that day Bill? The snowblower? Taking the son to a locked up school? Ah Valentines day.

  2. Earle’s newest is amazing too. Thanks for doing this series. It’s totally a highlight every week.

  3. Hi Bill. Well, I was thinking I could just say “thanks” this time, but as usual…

    Steve Earle has played our folk festival a few times (something you MUST consider doing:, and he always brings the house down. I’ve play one of his tunes, I Feel Alright, with a friend of mine who adores him. I work backstage on the Performer Hospitality crew, and have met and worked with many of the performers over the years, including Steve (and Rickie Lee, when she played here). Anyway, did you catch him when he was on The Wire? For each season, a different artist sang the theme song theme song, Way Down in the Hole, by Tom Waits. Steve’s version was used in the fifth and final season. Of his records, I think Jerusalem has resonated with me the most.

    I agree with you about Rickie Lee’s first few records. The first one from 1980 remains one of my all-time favorites, songs like Coolsville and Weasel and the White Boys Cool. I love We Belong Together, how it seemingly changes tempo from 6/8 to 4/4 when the drums kick in, and I cannot stop myself from singing the horn parts at the end of The Real End.

    Thanks for dropping names, it allows us to live vicariously through you.

    I have a gig tonight, first electric gig in 18 months. Wish me luck. Have fun tomorrow, I’ll be there in spirit.

    Thanks as always for the CotW.

    – Randy

  4. I have the Bathing Beauties to thank for turning me on to Mr. Earle. You did a ripping cover of “You’re Still Standing There” at Lili’s back in the day that caused me to look up artist, album, etc. My own “band” the Lasagna Hogs occasionally features “YSST” in our “repertoire” as a nod to the Beauties. “Valentine’s Day,” nice choice.

  5. Got to hear this on Valentine’s with my valentine at Toad. Thanks. Also love Steve Earle. His son Justin Townes Earle is also very much worth listening to.

    You probably already know that Sarah Borges (this week’s 7PM show) did a duet with John Doe on NPR’s Mountain Stage. You can listen online. She covered X’s “Come Back to Me” on their last disc.

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