Steve Earle is pretty cool. He’s a country outlaw who is a socialist and an outspoken Bernie Sanders supporter. He is a vocal opponent of capital punishment. He’s also written a song “directed towards the state of Mississippi and their refusal to abandon the Confederate Flag and remove it from their state flag.”
For this Tiny Desk it’s just him and his guitar as he sings songs from his then new album.
He opens with “Waitin’ On The Sky” and says it’s the first time he’s played it in front of people. He has to restart the song because “debris from a Cobb salad shifted in his throat.” He also forgets some of the words, but it still sounds great.
He is very chatty with lots of stories about the recording of the record and how a song that he mentions isn’t on the record, but it is on a download or vinyl. “We used to make records for girls and now we make them for nerds.”
“Every Part Of Me” is a slow ballad, it’s quite pretty. His voice sounds good and hard-worn as he sings. He says it is “the song you’re most likely to hear on the handful of radio stations that actually play me.”
While tuning before his third song he says that he is involved with a show called Treme “that’s ‘treme,’ just like it sounds… if you’re French.” In the show he’s a street performer in New Orleans. He says that there are non-traditional buskers–professional musicians who sing on the streets for tips (hundreds of dollars a day). And he tells about the turf wars that began in the 80s. Eventually an agreement was reached between the players. That’s all a lead in to a song that is on the Treme soundtrack called “This City.” It’s a touching song about New Orleans.
I’d always thought that he was much more “country” sounding, and maybe he is on record, but at least here, he is simply singing well writing and well-though out songs.
[READ: February 23, 2016] “To Laugh That We May Not Weep”
This is a brief essay about cartoonist Art Young. Young would be 150 years old this year and Spiegelman says that Bernie Sanders would have been the best birthday present we could have given him. Because Art Young was a radical! Political !! Cartoonist!!! (the oblivion trifecta). The only concept less inviting is a political radical.
Spiegelman says that once upon a time political cartoonists were very powerful (although in some respect they still are, as you can see by the the murdered Charlie Hebdo artists).
Young was a talented cartoonist who drew for all kinds of publications. He was never convicted for his drawings, but he was put on trial for libel. He was found not guilty; he drew a picture of himself sleeping with a caption “Art Young on trial for his life.”
Spiegelman contends that political cartoons are usually short-lived and timely but that Young’ are more timeless–and perhaps sadly still relevant. And that he was never shrill or humorless.
Beyond cartooning, Young studied to be a painter and has many different techniques. He also did a lot more than “just” political cartoons (as the examples in this article demonstrate).
But more importantly, his pieces were easily understood by all–no matter your class. I love his conclusion that the Occupy movement might have had longer legs if it only had a great T-shirt designed by Art Young.
As I was reading this, I was thinking that it sounds like Art Young is due for a retrospective. It turns out that Fantagraphics has just printed it The Art and Life of Art Young which is coming out later this year. I will certainly be looking for it.