Earlier this week I drove to The Electric Fetus in Minneapolis. The Electric Fetus is a great, fun store; not least because it is now the only store I’m aware of in the entire Twin Cities metro that still has a good selection of music CDs. I end up making a trip to the Electric Fetus a few times a year even though it’s about a one hour drive if I can avoid rush-hour traffic. I bought a copy of The Low Highway by Steve Earle & The Dukes (& Duchesses). When I finally got home after a long afternoon, I put The Low Highway on the player with the thought of lying down and drifting off for my afternoon nap. I was tired, but the music wouldn’t let me nap – it was too good. I liked the sound, the lyrics, the instrumentation was great. The music has elements of country (it’s filed in the Country section), folk, rock, mountain music . . . My only gripe is that one or two of the songs were a little too much hard-rock – but this gripe is no more than personal preference. I’m sure if you like hard rock you’ll like these songs.
If there is a theme to the songs, I think it is being between despair and hope. In the title song Low Highway, the lyrics are about
the ghost of America watchin’ me
Through the broken windows of the factories
Naked bones of a better day
As I rolled on down the low highway
Later in the CD, the son 21st Century Blues says that
We stand now on the verge of history
The world can be anything that we want it to be
Where there’s a will there’s a way where there’s a fire there’s a spark
Out in the streets downtown in the park
Maybe the future’s just waitin on you and me
In the 21st century
Another song, Burnin’ It Down, is very bleak, hopeless until the last line of the song: “‘Cause the door’s always open and it’s never too late.” Another song, Love’s Gonna Blow My Way, is similar. The singer is “. . . stranded. Standin’ in the pourin’ rain. Really comin’ down but someday Love’s gonna blow my way. Repeatedly, the singer describes how miserable his current condition is then says “Love’s gonna blow my way.” I don’t think that there is a conclusion on the CD. What will win the day? Despair and misery or hope and love?