I think Al Hirt and Ann-Margaret pioneered the beauty-and-the-beast pairing in popular music. They called their 1964 album Beauty and the Beard.
Susanna Hoffs and Matthew Sweet have produced several discs together in a similar sort of pairing. Alison Krauss and Robert Plant followed in their footsteps to great success.
Now come Shawn Colvin and Steve Earle. I don’t think the pairing is to Shawn’s advantage, but I hope it serves her well one way or another. Michelle Green hears them out at length in the New York Times profile/interview “Two old friends on the road together.”
I saw Shawn perform when she settled in for three nights at the Dakota in Minneapolis this past March. She changed up her setlist each night. One constant, however, was “That Don’t Worry Me Now.” She talked about how she needed to write one more song to finish These Four Walls. On the night before the scheduled recording session, instead of getting down to work on the song, she watched a PBS program on Martin Luther King. In the studio the next morning she came up with “That Don’t Worry Me Now.”
She didn’t say, but was obviously touched by King’s declaration of faith in his final speech: “And so I’m happy tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”
“That Don’t Worry Me Now” has an irreverent edge that seems to me to tap into a deeply American vein. It also acknowledges personal struggles while expressing peace of mind. The expression of peace of mind comes straight from King’s speech.
Colvin and Earle retrieve the song on their new disc (video above), out this month. I thought some readers might enjoy it.