Tim Easton proclaims on his latest album that he is getting older and just now learning who he is. Anyone with ears can recognize what Easton is — a folk singer with rock ’n’ roll sensibilities in the tradition of Bob Dylan. It is also obvious from his recordings that Easton is something of a restless pilgrim. Accordingly, when not in his desert home, Easton is usually wandering across the face of the earth playing music the way he has done for much of his life.
In a recent interview leading up to his Monday performance at Comedy Caravan, part of the Blue Sky Kentucky series, Easton offered some perspective. “I was born in upstate New York. And my dad worked for Goodyear, so I actually grew up in Ohio before I began to really ramble. But it seems that I mostly got my education playing music on the streets of Europe. Occasionally I’d get a job when I absolutely had to. It sounds pretentious but I was a true troubadour. Still am. Except now I mostly play indoors.”
Easton felt the lure of this lifestyle from a young age. As he remembers, “I think by the time I was in sixth or seventh grade I sensed that music would be a large part of my life. Early on I had been absorbing the stuff that I heard through my older siblings … artists like Blind Lemon Jefferson, The Beatles, Doc Watson and Townes Van Zandt … but when I first heard Woody Guthrie, something really clicked.”
In the spirit of Guthrie, Easton has never shied away from tough issues. Besides some lovely tunes about topics such as love and giving up drugs, Easton’s current (and fourth) record, Ammunition, is loaded with political protests and bits of theological reflection. Collectively, these songs are, for Easton, simple truths that had to be stated.
“There is a great slumber happening in our country right now. And most folks seem brainwashed and afraid. I was raised Catholic, so I am a big fan of the golden rule but not a fan of any sort of killing. I just have to wonder what part of ‘Thou shalt not kill’ do people like certain leaders who claim to have Jesus as their personal savior while obviously choosing not to walk in his footsteps … what part of that commandment do they not understand?”
Easton concludes his rant with an amusing anecdote. “A little while back I called into this conservative radio talk show and the topic of discussion was capital punishment. When they got around to me, I offered a sentiment that I borrowed from John Lennon, which is basically that if your position is to kill all the killers … what do you propose we do with our government? Of course, I was immediately disconnected from the switchboard at that point.”
In the end, Easton is just relieved that, as bad as things are, “at least no one is going to put me up against a wall somewhere for saying the things I say. They will either disagree with the message or agree and arise from their slumber.”
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