NASHVILLE SKYLINE: Return of the Dinosaurs

Eagles, Fogerty, Garth, Earle Show Signs of Life

(NASHVILLE SKYLINE is a column by CMT/ Editorial Director Chet Flippo.)

Much as I love new artists — and I’m even more enthusiastic about young Ashton Shepherd now that I’ve heard her complete album — there’s much to be said about the old warhorses who know the paths, who can shoulder the load and can show the way to the newcomers.

Right now, I’m heartened to hear strong new music from the Eagles, from John Fogerty, from Garth Brooks and from Steve Earle. Dinosaurs all, in terms of music’s voracious appetite for new talent.

It is hard for me to assimilate that it’s been 28 years since the Eagles last recorded and released a new studio album. I was just reading a blog comment on from a young Eagles fan who wrote that he saw his first Eagles show at age 3 and — now at age 19 — is wishing for new Eagles music. Well, he’s got his wish. The new single is here and the new album is coming. The four members of the Eagles’ collective age is 237 years. They sure as hell as don’t sound that old on the new single “How Long.” Of course, the song itself is 35 years old — but the recording of it isn’t — and it just underscores the fact that good music endures. “How Long” is quintessential Southern California country-rock, sounding free and flying and making you wish you were cruising in a fast convertible on the Pacific Coast Highway.

Man, is John Fogerty P.O.’d. A new song that just leaps off his upcoming solo CD Revival has him screaming in full-throttle classic Fogerty mode: “I Can’t Take It No More.” His target? No surprise. Bush and his war. It’s running at about 90 mph, and the sound is closer to the Sex Pistols than to Creedence Clearwater Revival, although it does reprise his earlier “Fortunate Son.” But, man, does it ever get your attention.

He also goes after the Bush gang in “Long Dark Night,” but “I Can’t Take It No More” is just a killer cut. After three listenings, I’m completely enthralled by this whole album. Twelve new songs, some gutsy Fogerty vocals and some sparkling guitar work. At age 62, he’s never sounded better. Revival is due on Oct. 2.

Garth Brooks may still be retired at age 45, but he doesn’t sound like it with his sparkling new single “More Than a Memory.” It suggests we’ll be hearing more soon from the Garth corner.

Steve Earle has reached age 52 sounding better than ever and with his writing chops in fine form. Marriage to Allison Moorer and their move to New York’s Greenwich Village seem to have energized him. His forthcoming album, Washington Square Serenade (due Sept. 25), is superb. And it’s very much a New York City album in the finest sense of the word. Moorer duets with Earle on “Days Aren’t Long Enough.” The Brazilian band Forro in the Dark join him on “City of Immigrants.” The only non-Earle original song on the album (apart from the Earle-Moorer collaboration “Days Aren’t Long Enough”) is Tom Waits’ “Way Down in the Hole,” which also serves as the theme song for the HBO series, The Wire. Earle appears as “Waylon” on the series. The CD’s opening song, “Tennessee Blues,” completes Earle’s earlier “Guitar Town” in chronicling his leaving of Nashville for New York City. For “Tennessee Blues,” Earle says he was striving for the sound of Bob Dylan’s “Corrina, Corrina” from his Village days. A lively DVD documentary of the songs, along with Earle’s personal travelogue of Greenwich Village, will be included in a deluxe edition of the CD. Earle ends his album liner notes in true Steve Earle mode: “P.S. F*** Lou Dobbs.”