Listen closely to older songs like “Ain’t Livin’ Long like This” and you’ll hear hints of Crowell’s back-of-the-tracks Houston upbringing. He addressed it head on with his 2001 album The Houston Kid. A track called “The Rock of My Soul” delivers this searing recollection: “I’m a firsthand witness to an age-old crime:/A man who hits a woman isn’t worth a dime./ Five, six, seven, eight, nine years old,/ That’s what I remember ’bout the rock of my soul.” The album also contained a trope on Johnny Cash’s “I Walk the Line,” which prompted Cash to say that rewriting that song took a lot of nerve. “Yes, sir,” Crowell is said to have answered (according to Thom Jurek of the All Music Guide). Crowell’s songwriting pace hasn’t slowed down at all in his fifties, which is noteworthy in itself, and he continues to express a spiritual streak that was there in some of his earliest songs.
One of Nashville’s few liberal voices during the Bush ascendancy, Crowell comes to the Ark on Monday, October 6 (see Nightspots), with a new album, Sex & Gasoline, that has a social and political tinge. The sense of the name comes from the title track: “This mean old world runs on sex and gasoline.” Crowell will be appearing with an acoustic trio, and the Ark has proven to be a great place for audiences wanting to dig deeper into his large output of superb country songs.
[Originally published in October, 2008.]