Greg Trooper: Floating
By Steve Earle
I'm what they call a singer-songwriter. That either means that my gift is primarily literary and that if I didn't write songs no one would pay to hear me sing or that my songs are so weird that no one else will sing 'em, leaving me no option except to do it myself – or maybe both. Having been hyphenated at a tender age, I have rarely covered other people's songs. I write a lot and my own studio records usually contain some thread (sometimes so thin that only I can follow it) that holds them together, somehow. Covers are out of the question for me in that arena. Forget about the soundtracks and the tribute records. Those types of projects have agendas of their own. For me the covers that really count are the ones that I do in live shows because they are the songs that I sing because I wish I had written them, myself. The list of songs is relatively short considering how long I've been doing this. The list of writers is even shorter: Bill Monroe, Jimmy Driftwood, Johnny Cash, Joe Maphis, Rose Lee Maphis and Max Fidler, Jagger and Richards, Lennon and McCartney, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Gram Parsons and Chris Hillman, Lowell George, Kurt Cobain, Townes Van Zandt, Doug Sahm, Jay Farrar, Brain Henneman, Terry Adams and GREG TROOPER.
I met Troop at the Lone Star Café in New York in the summer of 1986. I was hammered when I got there and in even worse shape when I left. When I came to on an airplane halfway back to Nashville the next day, the only thing I could remember was one amazing song call Little Sister. I never forgot it.
I called my manager the next day and had him send me a copy of Troop's record and I discovered that not only were there a lot of other great songs on it, but to add insult to injury he was also a GREAT singer, which if you ask me is a slap in the face of the whole hyphenated ethic. But it was Little Sister that made me jealous. I learned it and I sang it for audiences and sometimes while I was up there singin' it I would pretend, just for that three minutes, mind you, that I'd written it myself.
Last year I taped a TV show with Troop and some other songwriters sitting around in a circle singing songs and Troop played Muhammed Ali... and I immediately went home and learned it.
That's two, Troop.
— Steve Earle, Indianapolis, IN ("I think"), February 2003
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