Songs You May Have Missed #681

Steve Earle: “The Devil’s Right Hand” (1988)

Steve Earle’s enviable songwriting chops are on display in this story song about the perils of the gun.

Earle comes across like a more authentic Springsteen, and was part of a golden era for country radio in which the likes of Lyle Lovett, k.d. lang, Texas Tornados, Dwight Yoakam, Alison Krauss and Los Lobos enjoyed airplay before the format chose to eschew diversity and closed in on itself.

Los Lobos became too experimental. Lovett too artsy and sardonic. For lang, who was a lesbian and an outspoken anti-meat advocate, it was only a matter of time before country radio turned its back. And I suppose Krauss just didn’t embrace country cliche consistently enough–despite winning more Grammy awards (27) than any other female artist in any genre.

As for Earle, despite 1986’s breakthrough hit album Guitar Town, he too was soon left outside looking in. Perhaps he was just too rock for country radio and too country for rock radio (which only ever embraced one of his tunes, “Copperhead Road”)

One thing’s for sure: the lyrical gut punch the guy delivers ensures that he is more at home on public radio stations than country.

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