Steve Earle - Copperhead Road

Music video by Steve Earle performing Copperhead Road. (C) 1988 MCA Nashville, a Division of UMG Recordings, Inc.
The title song "Copperhead Road" tells of a Vietnam War veteran, scion of a rural moonshine bootlegging clan, who returns home to Johnson County, Tennessee but decides instead to enter the marijuana business which is shown by the line, "I'll take the seed from Colombia and Mexico". The song references The Ballad of Thunder Road (one line mentions his father "headed down to Knoxville with the weekly load" and his mother breaking down after a visit from the sheriff).
Copperhead Road was an actual road near Mountain City, Tennessee although it has since been renamed as Copperhead Hollow Rd. due to theft of road signs bearing the song's name. The song also inspired a popular line dance timed to the beat of the song.
The songs on side one of the album reflect Earle's politics: the title track attacks the War on Drugs, and the song "Snake Oil" compares then president Ronald Reagan to a traveling con man and draws attention to his "legacy of creative deceit". "Johnny Come Lately" (performed with The Pogues) compares the experience of US servicemen fighting in World War II with those in the Vietnam War, and contrasts the differing receptions they received on returning home. "Back to the Wall" is about poverty.
Unlike some issues-oriented musicians, however, Earle does not limit himself to political material. The second side of the album consists of apolitical works: love songs ("Even When I'm Blue" for example) and a holiday offering ("Nothing but a Child", performed here with Maria McKee).[2] |rev2 = Rolling Stone |rev2score = }} In declaring Copperhead Road Rock Album of the Week on October 21, 1988, The New York Times described it as "...exactly half of a brilliant album, with five smart, ornery, memorable story-songs." With references to Bruce Springsteen, John Mellencamp and The Rolling Stones the paper applauded Earle for introducing country music's storytelling and three-chord structures to rockabilly and contemporary rock music. Side two, however, the Times dismissed as "strictly average" love songs and a "hokey" Christmas song. Time Magazine, including it in the September 19, 1988 Critics' Choices, described it as a "rock- inflected, country-based album" that "takes long chances with big themes... and does them proud".
It was a month into the new year before Rolling Stone finally published their review of Copperhead Road. On January 26, 1989, Rob Tannenbaum wrote that the album "begins murderously and ends sentimentally... split into two song cycles", and described the album's first side as being "as powerful as any music made this year". Of side two he admits disappointment at conventional love songs, saying Earle "has already examined this terrain and done a better job of it." Nonetheless, a review that compares Earle to Randy Newman, Bruce Springsteen, and Waylon Jennings among others concludes with Rolling Stone's designating Earle an "important artist" and finding Copperhead Road worthy of four stars.
Airplay on rock radio stations drove the title track into Billboard Magazine's Album Rock Top Ten chart, and that in turn helped Copperhead Road on Billboard's Album Chart, where it peaked at number 56 and gave Earle his highest charting album to date."

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