The veteran outlaw-country singer-songwriter Steve Earle has a long history with the city of Baltimore and, more notably, with David Simon, the co-creator of The Wire, still the greatest television show of all time. Earle played the small but noteworthy role of Walon, Bubbles’ grizzled Narcotics Anonymous sponsor, on the show. (He also later acted on Treme, Simon’s post-Wire show.) And Simon used Earle’s great song “I Feel Alright” to soundtrack the end-of-season-two montage. So it’s pretty awesome to learn that Earle and Simon are, at the very least, talking about working on something Baltimore-focused again.
Earle is now doing a live score for a new Off Broadway play called Samara, and that’s why he’s the subject of a new profile in The New York Times. Deep in that article, Earle mentions that he’d like to do more work on musicals, and he mentions a couple of projects he’s kicking around: A stage version of Washington Square, his 2007 folk concept album, and this possible Baltimore musical. The article keeps things vague, only mentioning that Earle and Simon have been talking about “a project set in the Baltimore neighborhood of Sparrows Point.”
There is, of course, every chance that this will not happen; these days, Simon has his hands full with The Deuce, a new HBO drama, with James Franco, about the seedy porn underground in Times Square in the ’70s. Still, how great would this be? Simon does his best work in Baltimore, and Sparrows Point is exactly the kind of place that Simon loves to document. For years, Sparrows Point was the site of a huge Bethlehem Steel plant, and layoffs have hit it hard in recent years. Imagine what those two could do with that place.
To help will this into being, let’s all watch that “I Feel Alright” montage, four and a half deeply affecting minutes of television.
RIP Frank Sobatka. RIP building shit in this country.