The current images of the United States show it more and more clearly: America is divided, it threatens to break. The President of the United States is not concerned with protecting the health of his population, but sees the crown pandemic solely from the standpoint of “re-election” and “the economy must make profits again”. While his followers in Heartland militarily protest against infection control rules, a disproportionate number of poor and colorful people are dying. A disaster for what was once the most powerful country in the world.
Such as Steve Earle his new album The Gosts Of West Virginia elaborated and recorded, the Corona disaster was not thought of. But the split was there. Left ear campaign songwriter Steve Earle did not want to endure the fact that the miners of all the people who played an important role in the history of progressive America through hard work struggles such as the “Harlan County War” in Kentucky in the United States 1930s, today in the 1930s there are opposite political fields.
West Virginia, like Kentucky, is one of the United States’ coal fields. In the past, industry was vital to the American economic system, but today it is an extinct industry. The result: where proud miners once lived in relative social security after successful job disputes, there is now unemployment and lack of prospects. And although Trump is a representative of the ruling economic elite, residents of the area are largely his constituents and hope for his “America First” policy.
Here’s where Earle started. He did not want to insult these Trump voters as racists or rights, but to take their concerns seriously: the decline in miners’ pride, unemployment, the concern that “they are no longer worth it”, poverty and a lack of prospects. Mining company practices include: poor mining safety standards and anti-union behavior when miners try to defend their interests, which they often avoid out of fear of unemployment.
The Socialist Count is concerned with dialogue with these people. He then took up a topic that burned in the soul of people in West Virginia: The Upper Big Branch Disaster on April 5, 2010, one of the biggest accidents in the history of the United States, in which 29 friends died. He wrote some of the songs for the play “Coal Country”, as well as other pieces about people and the region, as well as the traditional John Henry.
In “Union, God And Country” he takes on the difficult task of acquiring the perspectives of these people and, even if he does not share their political views, of treating them with respect. With a lively bluegrass people he succeeds in a credible and honest way. “Devil Put The Coal in The Ground” is therefore a sad lament over the difficult working conditions in the mine. Of course, “John Henry” fits in well with the context of the old popular song about the fight between man and machine. Further highlights of the album are “It’s About Blood”, “Black Lung” and “The Mine”, which unceasingly describe the realities of life in the mining area.
Rarely from Merle Travis’ innovative album “Folksongs Of The Hills” the world of mines was presented by a country musician as vividly as musically compelling. Once again he is supported by the long player by his “dukes”. In particular, the crystalline voices of Eleanor Whitmore in “Heaven Ain’t Goin ‘Nowhere” or “If you could review your face” create the right melancholy atmosphere.
Conclusion: Although this album shouldn’t expect any commercial laurel and the well-deserved attention due to the crown crisis, it highlights Steve Earle’s exceptional position as a socially empathic and committed songwriter who always combines his concerns with loud music.
Steve Earle & The Dukes – The Ghosts Of West Virginia: Das Album
title: Ghosts of West Virginia
Artist: Steve Earle and The Dukes
Release date: 22. May 2020
Label: New West Records (approximate trade)
formats: CD, vinyl and digital
Execution time: 29:46 Min.
Track list: (The Ghosts Of West Virginia)
01. Heaven is not going anywhere
02. Union, God and country
03. The devil has put coal into the ground
04. John Henry was a man who drives steel
05. Time is never on our side
06. It’s about blood
07. If you could see your face again – feat. Eleanor Whitmore
08. Black lung
09. The fastest man in the world
10. The Mine