Till death do us part

On the road with Steve Earle, Emmylou Harris and the Indigo Girls.

Topics:

Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium is a distinguished
building set slightly back from lower Broadway, a
once seedy, now gentrified, strip of bars and souvenir
shops, home to the Nascar Cafe, Planet Hollywood and, around
the corner, Hooters. But the venerable landmark stands
proud, its red brick exterior exuding an almost academic
authority. Once the home of the Grand Ole Opry, the
Ryman now feels haunted inside, its stage, wooden ceilings
and bench seats resonating with memories of country music
greats from decades past.

It was the perfect venue for roots singer/songwriter Steve
Earle’s April 12 benefit for “Journey of Hope,” an
anti-death penalty organization and one of Earle’s pet
causes. The organization — which includes Earle, playwright
Sam Shepard, whose mother was murdered, and Bud Welch, whose
daughter died in the Oklahoma City bombing — does speaking
tours of states where the issue is hot. (There will be a
similar small tour later this year in a yet-to-be determined
state.) Their recent two-week tour of Tennessee’s largest
cities was prompted by the impending execution of Robert Coe, which would be the state’s first since
1960. Joined by some of his good friends, including Emmylou
Harris (backed by Buddy and Julie Miller), Jackson Browne
and the Indigo Girls (with special guests the Dixie Chicks),
Earle and company performed acoustic numbers that were
somehow thematically linked to love, loss, hope and
forgiveness.



In between sets, Earle introduced Sister Helen Prejean, a
high-spirited, articulate woman who brought onto the stage the “Journey of
Hope” participants, all of whom had lost
loved ones to murder or had family members on death row;
they introduced themselves and briefly told their
stories. “My father and I were stabbed in our home by
robbers,” said one young woman. “I lived; he didn’t.”
Inmates’ families recounted tales of mistaken accusations,
mental disability and simple love and remorse for kin whose
lives had gone horribly wrong. It was an incredibly powerful
moment as they joined hands in unity, both their pain and
their forgiveness palpable.

Meredith Ochs is a writer in New York.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 17
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    John Stanmeyer

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Container City: Shipping containers, indispensable tool of the globalized consumer economy, reflect the skyline in Singapore, one of the world’s busiest ports.

    Lu Guang

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Man Covering His Mouth: A shepherd by the Yellow River cannot stand the smell, Inner Mongolia, China

    Carolyn Cole/LATimes

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Angry Crowd: People jostle for food relief distribution following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti

    Darin Oswald/Idaho Statesman

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    “Black Friday” Shoppers: Aggressive bargain hunters push through the front doors of the Boise Towne Square mall as they are opened at 1 a.m. Friday, Nov. 24, 2007, Boise, Idaho, USA

    Google Earth/NOAA, U.S. Navy, NGA, GEBCO

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Suburban Sprawl: aerial view of landscape outside Miami, Florida, shows 13 golf courses amongst track homes on the edge of the Everglades.

    Garth Lentz

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Toxic Landscape: Aerial view of the tar sands region, where mining operations and tailings ponds are so vast they can be seen from outer space; Alberta, Canada

    Cotton Coulson/Keenpress

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Ice Waterfall: In both the Arctic and Antarctic regions, ice is retreating. Melting water on icecap, North East Land, Svalbard, Norway

    Yann Arthus-Bertrand

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Satellite Dishes: The rooftops of Aleppo, Syria, one of the world’s oldest cities, are covered with satellite dishes, linking residents to a globalized consumer culture.

    Stephanie Sinclair

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Child Brides: Tahani, 8, is seen with her husband Majed, 27, and her former classmate Ghada, 8, and her husband in Hajjah, Yemen, July 26, 2010.

    Mike Hedge

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Megalopolis: Shanghai, China, a sprawling megacity of 24 Million

    Google Earth/ 2014 Digital Globe

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Big Hole: The Mir Mine in Russia is the world’s largest diamond mine.

    Daniel Dancer

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Clear-cut: Industrial forestry degrading public lands, Willamette National Forest, Oregon

    Peter Essick

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Computer Dump: Massive quantities of waste from obsolete computers and other electronics are typically shipped to the developing world for sorting and/or disposal. Photo from Accra, Ghana.

    Daniel Beltra

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Oil Spill Fire: Aerial view of an oil fire following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, Gulf of Mexico

    Ian Wylie

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Slide 13

    Airplane Contrails: Globalized transportation networks, especially commercial aviation, are a major contributor of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Photo of contrails in the west London sky over the River Thames, London, England.

    R.J. Sangosti/Denver Post

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Fire: More frequent and more intense wildfires (such as this one in Colorado, USA) are another consequence of a warming planet.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>