Digging Coal / Carrying Fire

Steve Earle performing “Devil Put the Coal in the Ground” for Public Theater NY.

Reader’s of this blog will no doubt notice that this post is a bit of a detour off the beaten path of my research into historical articles. Steve Earle has a new album coming out as well as a play about coal country both titled “The Ghosts of West Virginia. The first release is a song entitled “The Devil Put the Coal in the Ground”.

The song is haunting, both lyrically and musically. Lyrically the song is pure Appalachia:

The Devil put the coal in the ground

The Devil put the coal in the ground

Said I double dog dare you to follow me down

The Devil put the coal in the ground

As you would expect a banjo would be a natural fit for a song about tempting the Devil and digging coal but it is how the instrument is played that got my attention.

The lyrics are Appalachian, the instruments are Appalachian but the music is Middle Eastern. How could that be?

One possible explanation is that Earle is liberal in politics so maybe consciously or unconsciously he is linking coal and oil with global warming. Coal is from Appalachia and people usually associate oil with the Middle East. Appalachia lyrics and music but Middle Eastern music. It makes sense.

I have not found any interviews in which Earle suggests anything to confirm my theory. Could their be another reason?

In 2017 Robert Plant released “Carry Fire” its title track featured a Middle Eastern influence lyrically and musically

I suddenly remembered that this is not the first time I’ve heard a Middle Eastern influence in Western music. In 2017 Robert Plant released “Carry Fire” both the music and lyrics in the title track are heavily influenced by a Middle Eastern theme.

As with Earle, I could find no interviews in which Plant explains the inspiration for such a musical influence.

What if this sudden Middle Eastern influence in music is something more than the artists realize? What if it is a streaming consciousness that they are tapping into?

Is it a trend? I don’t think so, it’s natural, a foreboding musical prophecy. Humanity began in the Middle East and it is there where humanity will end. Time is accelerating and as it ushers in the final historic age a mass consciousness or awakening is developing organically. A calling for the final gathering.

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