Following the March release of his Guy Clark tribute album Guy, Steve Earle has returned to the deep well of Clark songs to record a couple more. To celebrate Record Store Day on Saturday, April 13th, Earle is releasing an exclusive 7-inch with his covers of “El Coyote” and “Don’t Let the Sunshine Fool You,” both of which are premiering today.
“El Coyote,” which Clark penned for his 2013 album My Favorite Picture of You after hearing a story about a border smuggler who left his human cargo to die, is even more potent in the midst of government-sanctioned family separations and Donald Trump’s wall proposal. Earle keeps his acoustic version loose, letting Clark’s words paint a picture of hope and despair. Earle hadn’t been able to include it on Guy, but decided to go back and record it after having a conversation with Los Lobos’ Louie Pérez about Clark’s body of work.
“He sees me and says, ‘Hey, I heard you made the Guy record. Did you record ‘The Cape?’ ‘El Coyote?'” says Earle. “I said no… and not recording ‘El Coyote’ kinda broke my heart, and so I went back into the studio.”
On the flip side, Earle tackles “Don’t Let the Sunshine Fool You,” written by Clark and recorded by Townes Van Zandt on the 1972 album The Late Great Townes Van Zandt. It links together two of Earle’s most important mentors, to both of whom he has now paid tribute with full albums — though Clark proved to be considerably tougher, given that he worked right up until his death.
“The difference between Guy and Townes is like the difference between [Jack] Kerouac and [Allen] Ginsberg,” says Earle. “Kerouac was pretty undisciplined, died young, didn’t write very much the last couple of decades of his life, and the same was true of Townes. They died at about the same age. Both Guy and Allen lived to be older and worked every fucking day. That’s probably what I learned from Guy and Susanna more than anything else was that they call these things that artists do ‘disciplines’ for a reason. He wasn’t an angel; he had plenty of demons. But found it necessary to work every day. I’m kind of the same way.”
On April 25th, Earle is scheduled to give an in-store performance at Grimey’s in Nashville, followed by an appearance on the Grand Ole Opry the following night. He currently has dates lined up through the end of August, including a two-night stint at the Troubadour in Los Angeles on August 13th and 14th.
Additional reporting by Joseph Hudak