I’m so stressed with work lately, having only a few days to learn new material, travel and then facilitate it beginning Monday. The real sucky part is that I’m going to be gone for two weeks which, honestly, really blows. So, yeah, I’m stressed. Fortunately it’s a beautiful day for running – shorts and t-shirt even – and burn some of that pent-up work stress off.
Kelly and I also have something to look forward tonight, Steve Earle & the Dukes playing at the Scotiabank Convention Center in Niagara Falls, performing the 30th Anniversary tour of ‘Guitar Town‘. I thought that this morning’s run then would be the perfect opportunity to get a little reacquainted with the album prior to hearing it played tonight.
‘Guitar Town’ was the debut album from the Texas-native singer-songwriter released on March 5th, 1986. It topped the Billboard country album charts, and the title song reached #7 on the country singles charts. Earle himself was also nominated for two 1987 Grammy Awards, Best Male Country Vocalist and Best Country Song, for the title track.
Funny thing about the original tour with this album, on one night he found himself sharing a bill with Dwight Yoakam and the Replacements the next. That’s a hell of ashift in genres. However, one listen to the album explains why – while the music was country through and through, Earle showed off enough swagger and attitude to intimidate anyone short of Keith Richards. While Earle’s songs bore a certain resemblance to the Texas outlaw ethos (think Waylon Jennings in ‘Lonesome, On’ry and Mean‘ mode), they displayed a literate anger and street-smart snarl that set him apart from the typical Music Row hack, and no one in Nashville in 1986 was able (or willing) to write anything like the title song, a hilarious and harrowing tale of life on the road (“Well, I gotta keep rockin’ while I still can/Got a two-pack habit and motel tan”) or the bitterly unsentimental account of small-town life ‘Someday‘ (“You go to school, where you learn to read and write/So you can walk into the county bank and sign away your life”), the latter of which may be the best Bruce Springsteen song the Boss didn’t write.
And even when Earle gets a bit teary-eyed on ‘My Old Friend the Blues‘ and ‘Little Rock ‘n’ Roller‘, he showed off a battle-scarred heart that was tougher and harder-edged than most of his competition. ‘Guitar Town‘ is slightly flawed by an overly tidy production from Emory Gordy, Jr., and Tony Brown as well as a band that never hit quite as hard as Earle’s voice, and he would make many stronger and more ambitious records in the future, but the album was his first shot at showing a major audience what he could do, and he hit a bull’s-eye – it’s perhaps the strongest and most confident debut album any country act released in the 1980’s.
Despite how incredibly gorgeous it is outside today (currently 13° – in November!) and that at different points, both a deer and a fox crossed my path along Thunder Bay Rd. (not quite like THIS though) I still wasn’t very motivated to run hard. I knew into the 2nd of my 4 minute intervals that the heart and soul just wasn’t into it today and the usual willingness to suffer simply wasn’t there. Instead of my usual 5 x 4 minute fartlek intervals were modified mid-run into two sets of 4 minutes HARD / 1 minute recovery jog, 3 minutes HARD / 2 minutes recovery jog, 2 minutes HARD / 3 minutes recovery jog, 1 minute HARD / 4 minutes recovery jog, for a total of 10.57k all in.
But not terribly bad either….more, “meh”.
I’m still happy I managed a bit of suffering and garnered some good hard running while covering more distance than I did this past Tuesday, but I’m disappointed at having mentally “quit” the plan. While I agree that sad country ballads probably wasn’t the best inducer of hard interval work, or the fact that I was up half the night with heart burn and fiery asshole thanks to Kelly’s nacho platter last night (mental note to self: less than one half a packet of Trader Joe’s taco mix is sufficient), I think the stress of the past three works days caught up with me and I’m feeling the beginning of mental fatigue…so I pulled back. Guess that also means then that tonight’s “Date Night” concert is coming at a pretty good time.