Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Same names, but very different songs

(It's apparently music blogging time in this house.)

It's weird to me how sometimes there are songs which share a name and a genre but pretty much nothing else.  It's sort of a joke that there are a metric butt-ton of songs out there called "Jump", for one.

Erik & I have come across two separate examples of this phenomenon, leading to some confusion both times.

Strangely enough, Steve Earle was involved in both incidents.

"Telephone Road"--done by Steve Earle (on his album El Coraz√≥n) and by Rodney Crowell (on "The Houston Kid").  Both are pretty upbeat songs.  Both talk about Houston (so Imma go out on a limb here and say that's an actual street, though c'mon, it's Houston.  I avoid it as much as I can). I like them both equally.

Steve Earle's version:

Come on come on come on let's go
This ain't Louisiana
Your Mama won't know
Come on come on come on let's go
Everybody's rockin' out on Telephone Road

Telephone Road is ten miles long
Fifty car lots and a hundred honky-tonks
Jukebox blastin' and the beer bottles ring
Jimmy banging on a pinball machine 

Rodney Crowell's:

Sawdust spread out on a dance hall floor
Jukebox ripping at an all-out roar
Barmaid smiling at a 10 cent tip
Living is a trip
On Telephone Road

Magnolia Garden bandstand on the very front row
Johnny Cash Carl Perkins and The Killer putting on a show
6 years old and just barely off my daddy's knee
When those rockabilly rebels
Sent the Devil running right through me

The second one?  "San Antonio Girl".  Steve Earle again, and Lyle Lovett.  While I've grown to appreciate Lovett's song, I far prefer Earle's.  The one ol' Lyle does sounds like it was written by the tourist and visitor information bureau, name-checking Mi Tierra, Floore's, the Alamo, etc, etc:

She said the Alamo
Was someplace we could go
Or to the Hemisfair
To ride the needle there
And all along the River Walk
Well all she did was talk
And all i did was think
Things are about to change

I mean, really?  I'm sure that makes the City Council collectively pee itself, but it's not a great song.

Steve Earle's isn't going to be remembered as a great piece of music either, but it's got a nice tejano/conjunto sound to it, and I think (though I don't recall for certain) that Flaco Jimenez actually played the accordion on that song.  It also strikes me as being more truly San Antonio (more puro, if you will), on account of the bolded:

Now I know you've heard the stories bout life in the fast lane
What they didn't tell you is you come home on a slow train
I'd just as soon remember you the way that I found you
Dancin' by yourself with the stars all around you

If you've ever been to Market Square, you know all about the women dancing by themselves, often accompanied by a plastic cup of beer.  That is puro San Antonio.

But hey, in Lyle Lovett's defense, at least Mi Tierra is in Market Square.  So maybe Steve Earle encountered the eponymous SA girl while she was dancing by herself after ditching the insufferably boring Lyle Lovett?**

**For the record, I like Lyle Lovett.  But his "San Antonio Girl" isn't his best.  By far.  In fact, it may well be the reason Julia Roberts dumped him.


suz said...

Steve Earle is not only a brilliant musician, he's also an excellent mimic. He has a talent for regional accent, musically as well as verbally, so he really conveys the feel of a song. It's a shame his personal life has damaged his career. Call me selfish, but I wish his body of work was much bigger.

Sabra said...

I wish Steve Earle had a body of work that had greater popular recognition. If I hear "Copperhead Road" on the radio one more time, I'm going to explode. (Not that it's a bad song, it's just not his best. It's not even the best song on that album.)

suz said...

I so totally agree!!! One of my favorites is his live rendition of Springsteen's "State Trooper." I like most of "Washington Square Serenade," but he sounds weary - his voice lacks it's early intensity. It's sad that he's so well respected within the industry, but doesn't have that popular recognition. Nobody seems to have a clue how much he's contributed to music.