Sunday, May 22, 2011

the Wire, to Treme, to Lincoln Assassination?

Steve Earle, May 20, 2001 at Kepler's in Menlo Park, CA
Friday night I went to see Steve Earle promote his brand new first novel at a local bookstore, I'll Never Get Out of this World Alive. I enjoyed his earlier book of short stories, and very much like his literary "voice." Of course Earle has made his name with his music -- I'll be seeing him again at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass this fall. He's written a few Civil War-themed songs that, for me, arrive at a happy intersection of great music and a favorite historical subject. I posted a blog entry on Earle's Ben McCulloch earlier this year. Great song.

Earle has also had some roles in David Simon's highly acclaimed HBO series, The Wire, and more recently in Simon's newer series, Treme. During the Q&A Friday night, I got the opportunity to ask Earle if he reads a lot of Civil War history. He said he has in the past, but not lately. The question, however, caused him to relate the story that David Simon told him not to cut his beard, because he had him in mind for a particular cavalry officer who participated in the pursuit and capture of John Wilkes Booth. Earle said Simon, who is a crime reporter at heart (was, in fact, a crime reporter for the
Baltimore Sun) had no interest in Lincoln or Booth so much as the other characters involved. It occurred to me that Robert Redford recently addressed this very subject, but undoubtedly Simon would take it in another direction.

I hope it comes to fruition. Might be a nice counterbalance to all of the other assassination-related dramas we're going to see in the next few years.

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