For the Sake of the Song: Steve Earle “Fort Worth Blues”

Steve Earle described El Corazon’, his seventh album, as “bigger than me and faster than me”. He was certainly hitting a rich and varied seam of songwriting form, although it could be argued that Earle has never really had a dry spell, either in quantity or quality. As he was writing the songs, the great Townes van Zandt passed away. Earle famously said “(he) is the best songwriter in the whole world, and I’ll stand on Bob Dylan’s coffee table in my cowboy boots and say that” – though wryly (and with careful understatement) acknowledging that van Zandt was “a real good teacher and a real bad role model”.

Earle was inspired to write ‘Fort Worth Blues’, which could be seen as the latest of a long line of absolutely gorgeous ballads, that he seemed able to turn out almost at will (see also ‘My Old Friend The Blues’, ‘Valentines Day’, ‘Goodbye’  etc etc). However, perhaps the loss of van Zandt inspired him to even greater levels, with a song at once poetic, regretful, soothing, and with one of his finest melodies. On top of this, there is a combined guitar/ pedal steel solo that is so full of soul and yearning, it seems to capture the tears and joy of living. The song carries a lonesome restlessness that is irresistible, and seems to capture and reflect van Zandt’s own writing.

“There’s a full moon over Galway Bay tonight
Silver light, over green and blue;
And every place I travel to I find
Some Kind of sign that you’ve been through”

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