Posted May 8, 2020 by Jeff in Tunes

Steve Earle’s New Album Draws Inspiration from Mining Disaster

Steve Earle Photo by Jacob Blickenstaff
Steve Earle Photo by Jacob Blickenstaff

In support of his new album, Ghosts of West Virginia, alt-country singer-guitarist Steve Earle has announced that he’ll deliver a virtual in-store performance at 8pm ET on May 15. The private, solo performance will be pre-recorded from Grimey’s Records in Nashville, TN. 

“Now is the time for artists to step up and support indie stores who have supported them — in any way we can,” says Earle said in a statement.

Each pre-order guarantees a copy of the album that will be shipped to arrive on or before the May 22 release date and include a ticket to view the virtual in-store. One hundred percent of the ticket price for the virtual in-store performance will benefit the independent retailers. Fans who have previously pre-ordered Ghosts of West Virginia can purchase a standalone virtual in-store ticket. 

Ghosts of West Virginia centers on one of the worst mining disasters in American history. Earle started working on the album after being approached by Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen, the playwright team behind Coal Country, a play with music about the disaster. 

With Ghosts of West Virginia, Earle says that he was interested in exploring a new approach to his songwriting. 

“I’ve already made the preaching-to-the-choir album,” he says in reference to 2004’s The Revolution Starts…Now. 

Earle says he still believes in sustainable energy sources and ending fossil fuels.

“But that doesn’t mean a thing in West Virginia,” he says. “I thought that, given the way things are now, it was maybe my responsibility to make a record that spoke to and for people who didn’t vote the way that I did. One of the dangers that we’re in is if people like me keep thinking that everyone who voted for Trump is a racist or an asshole, then we’re fucked, because it’s simply not true. So this is one move toward something that might take a generation to change. I wanted to do something where that dialogue could begin. I said I wanted to speak to people that didn’t necessarily vote the way that I did, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have anything in common. We need to learn how to communicate with each other. My involvement in this project is my little contribution to that effort. And the way to do that — and to do it impeccably —is simply to honor those guys who died at Upper Big Branch.”

Ghosts of West Virginia will be available across digital retailers, on compact disc, and standard black vinyl. A limited Yellow & Blue West Virginia Swirl colored LP edition will be available at independent retailers. An extremely limited to 500 Smoke/Coal Colored Vinyl Edition autographed by Steve Earle is available for pre-order now via New West Records.

Photo by Jacob Blickenstaff  


Jeff started writing about rock ’n’ roll some 20 years ago when he stood in the pouring rain to hitch hike his way to see R.E.M. on their Life’s Rich Pageant tour. Since that time, he's written for various daily newspapers, alt-weeklies, magazines and websites. Feel free to comment on his posts or suggest music, film and art to him at [email protected].