Published Feb 10, 2015Late last year, iconic folk rocker Steve Earle revealed plans for a blues-infused new record called Terraplane. Well, it's set to arrive next week, and Exclaim.ca has got an exclusive stream of album cut "Better Off Alone."
As previously reported, the record was recorded in Nashville, at the House of Blues Studio D with Earle's trusty backing band the Dukes. The majority of the record was written on the road, while the singer was touring his last record The Low Highway.
Earle took a pretty personal approach to writing the new record, which was made in the wake of a separation from his seventh wife. "Everyone talks about how many times I've been married. They don't talk about how many times I've been divorced, maybe that's what this record is about," said Earle, making reference to "Better Off Alone."
Explaining the track further, Earle had this to say in an Exclaim! interview:
There are several ways to deal with the blues, and "Better Off Alone" represents the most straightforward. There is no bluster involved, it is only pain and that works. Blues is not music that is supposed to bum you out. It is therapy for hard times, not the cause of hard times. As a songwriter, I think that's the best song on the record, the one I hope gets covered.
The song comes from a Kate McGarrigle song called "Go Leave," which Allison recorded [Allison Moorer, Earle's ex-wife]. It's funny, I sang "Go Leave" at a Kate tribute Martha [Wainwright] put together at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival last year. When Kate was dying, Allison decided she wanted to record that song. She was trying to figure out how to play it — Kate's guitar playing was pretty eccentric, the tunings she'd use. So I called Emmy [Emmylou Harris] who called Kate. She called back that day — I talked for a minute and handed the phone over to Allison, they talked then Kate sent a document that's one of my treasured possessions. She emailed it, a very detailed chord diagram of the tuning and the chords — a tablature — of "Go Leave." Allison learned it from that.
The song stuck with me then I found myself in a similar position. Everything I tried to write ended up being "Go Leave" so I kind of went with it. "Better Off Alone" is like my version of "Go Leave."
If you think that sounds like the makings for a good blues song, you're absolutely right. You can hear the results by streaming "Better Off Alone" below.
Terraplane officially arrives on February 17 via New West Records.