Steve Earle and the Dukes (from the album So You Wanna Be an Outlaw)
There is not a theme for So You Wanna Be an Outlaw, the recent release from Steve Earle and the Dukes. There is, however, a mission. Steve is revisiting in song the times of the Nashville Night Shift circa 1975. An era in Music City calendar when the outsiders found themselves ruling the Royal Court of Country. Steve Earle admits that the recent loss of mentors and friends such as Guy Clark (and Susanna), Greg Trooper, Merle Haggard, Leon Russell, and Bap Kennedy have made his mood more than a little nostalgic. On the liner notes for So You Wanna Be an Outlaw, Steve writes about the natural state of his musical community, a place where the fringe dwellers expect death to be knocking some time and embrace the occurrence as they carve tough times into words and music. The tracks of So You Wanna Be an Outlaw do not speak of the history that gave Outlaw Country a place at the table as much as soundtrack a moment in time when the gates budged open a couple of inches and the inmates on the outside rushed in to take over the asylum and put a little fun back into a dysfunctional music business.
Steve Earle and the Dukes head to the hills to battle nature with crackling guitar riffs in “The Firebreak Line”, visit “The Girl on the Mountain” on a tender melody, look into the distance to the west coast on “Sunset Highway”, and read “News from Colorado”. So You Wanna Be an Outlaw wrangles angular guitar leads as the jail doors slam shut on “If My Mama Coulda Seen Me”, steps to a Bakersfield strut for “Walkin’ in LA” as it ponders the fragility of love (“This is How It Ends”) and life (Fixin’ to Die”) while Steve Earle and the Dukes bid farewell to a friend (“Goodbye Michelangelo”).