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Steve Earle - Ghosts of West Virginia

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Ghosts of West Virginia

Steve Earle & The Dukes

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On April 5, 2010, the Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia, owned by coal giant Massey Energy, was destroyed in an explosion. A total of 29 miners were killed in what was the worst mining disaster in America for 40 years. While the CEO should have spent the rest of his life behind bars for violating the safety regulations that protected his employees, he was only faced with a fine and a few months in prison. Worse still, he then went into politics. Ten years on, who remember the victims? Well, Musician Steve Earle certainly does. The Pope of Americana has even dedicated his 2020 release to the tragedy which has now been turned into a play called Coal Country by playwrights Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen. The duo asked Earle to write songs for the show, some of which can be found here along with several other compositions. With that unmistakable gruff voice and a roots approach that mixes country, rock, folk, bluegrass and blues, his music just got a whole lot more impressive here and is at times moving, particularly when he recites the names of the 29 workers who lost their lives on It’s About Blood. As always with Steve Earle, anti-capitalist activism is at the heart of his art. But he wanted to use his music for something meaningful here and hopes it will change the minds of Trump voters, who currently make up 68% of the electorate in West Virginia. “Given the way things are now, it was maybe my responsibility to make a record that spoke to and for people who didn’t vote the way that I did. One of the dangers that we’re in is if people like me keep thinking that everyone who voted for Trump is a racist or an asshole, then we’re fucked, because it’s simply not true. I wanted to speak to people that didn’t necessarily vote the way that I did, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have anything in common. We need to learn how to communicate with each other. And the way to do that — and to do it impeccably —is simply to honour those guys who died at Upper Big Branch”. And impeccably he does it, for as an accomplished troubadour in American mythology, Steve Earle knows just how to avoid that cumbersome, unnatural feel that music often has when there’s a “message” behind it. Needless to say, this is one of the most powerful albums he has ever written. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz

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Ghosts of West Virginia

Steve Earle

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1
Heaven Ain't Goin' Nowhere
00:01:39

Steve Earle, Composer - Steve Earle & The Dukes, MainArtist

2020 New West Records, LLC 2020 New West Records, LLC

2
Union, God and Country
00:02:23

Steve Earle, Composer - Steve Earle & The Dukes, MainArtist

2020 New West Records, LLC 2020 New West Records, LLC

3
Devil Put the Coal in the Ground
00:02:53

Steve Earle, Composer - Steve Earle & The Dukes, MainArtist

2020 New West Records, LLC 2020 New West Records, LLC

4
John Henry was a Steel Drivin' Man
00:03:28

Steve Earle, Composer - Steve Earle & The Dukes, MainArtist

2020 New West Records, LLC 2020 New West Records, LLC

5
Time is Never on Our Side
00:02:55

Steve Earle, Composer - Steve Earle & The Dukes, MainArtist

2020 New West Records, LLC 2020 New West Records, LLC

6
It's About Blood
00:04:32

Steve Earle, Composer - Steve Earle & The Dukes, MainArtist

2020 New West Records, LLC 2020 New West Records, LLC

7
If I Could See Your Face Again
00:02:57

Steve Earle, Composer - Steve Earle & The Dukes, MainArtist

2020 New West Records, LLC 2020 New West Records, LLC

8
Black Lung
00:03:19

Steve Earle, Composer - Steve Earle & The Dukes, MainArtist

2020 New West Records, LLC 2020 New West Records, LLC

9
Fastest Man Alive
00:02:51

Steve Earle, Composer - Steve Earle & The Dukes, MainArtist

2020 New West Records, LLC 2020 New West Records, LLC

10
The Mine
00:02:48

Steve Earle, Composer - Steve Earle & The Dukes, MainArtist

2020 New West Records, LLC 2020 New West Records, LLC

Album Description

On April 5, 2010, the Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia, owned by coal giant Massey Energy, was destroyed in an explosion. A total of 29 miners were killed in what was the worst mining disaster in America for 40 years. While the CEO should have spent the rest of his life behind bars for violating the safety regulations that protected his employees, he was only faced with a fine and a few months in prison. Worse still, he then went into politics. Ten years on, who remember the victims? Well, Musician Steve Earle certainly does. The Pope of Americana has even dedicated his 2020 release to the tragedy which has now been turned into a play called Coal Country by playwrights Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen. The duo asked Earle to write songs for the show, some of which can be found here along with several other compositions. With that unmistakable gruff voice and a roots approach that mixes country, rock, folk, bluegrass and blues, his music just got a whole lot more impressive here and is at times moving, particularly when he recites the names of the 29 workers who lost their lives on It’s About Blood. As always with Steve Earle, anti-capitalist activism is at the heart of his art. But he wanted to use his music for something meaningful here and hopes it will change the minds of Trump voters, who currently make up 68% of the electorate in West Virginia. “Given the way things are now, it was maybe my responsibility to make a record that spoke to and for people who didn’t vote the way that I did. One of the dangers that we’re in is if people like me keep thinking that everyone who voted for Trump is a racist or an asshole, then we’re fucked, because it’s simply not true. I wanted to speak to people that didn’t necessarily vote the way that I did, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have anything in common. We need to learn how to communicate with each other. And the way to do that — and to do it impeccably —is simply to honour those guys who died at Upper Big Branch”. And impeccably he does it, for as an accomplished troubadour in American mythology, Steve Earle knows just how to avoid that cumbersome, unnatural feel that music often has when there’s a “message” behind it. Needless to say, this is one of the most powerful albums he has ever written. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz

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