Various Artists

For all the talk these past ten years about "Texas music," you have to wonder how many of the Ball Cap Nation children with their "Screw You, We're from Texas" T-shirts and Kevin Fowler beer koozies are actually aware of this extraordinary document about the birth of the movement they all so religiously claim to embrace. The first known recordings of Steve Earle, Rodney Crowell and non-Texan John Hiatt, these tracks, extracted from the 1975 documentary Heartworn Highways, are a historic treasure trove that includes previously unreleased songs by Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, Steve Young and David Allan Coe. These are the sounds of the birthing pains of nascent talents still hungry for discovery, still in love with words and melodies, still believing in the power of music to sustain the spirit. The lack of adornment only highlights the sincerity and the belief. It's unlikely we'll ever again hear Crowell tearing up "Bluebird Wine" to accompaniment by Earle, Young and Clark, or hear Earle and Hiatt duet on "Darlin' Commit Me." This is as real as it ever got or ever will, and is a must-have for fans of great songwriting and honest performance.


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