During the 1980s, artists like John Mellencamp, Steve Earle, and Bob Seger gained attention for playing a form of music called "Heartland Rock." Instead of singing songs about beautiful women, fast cars, and making money in the city, these writers covered topics more central to everyday life in rural America: Loss of innocence, heartbreak, and the drudgery of getting up every morning to work on the farm or in the factory. Although "Heartland Rock" has fallen out of favor in recent years, there are still a few artists carrying on the tradition. Katherine Cole reports on Chris Knight, and his new CD, "Enough Rope."
Chris Knight's Enough Rope opens with the story of "Jack Blue," a man who was always breaking the law, until he realized that it was time to grow up, stop causing trouble, and teach his own children to be a bit more respectful of the law.
Enough Rope is only Chris Knight's fourth album in eight years. He grew up in the tiny mining town of Slaughter, Kentucky, and has been playing guitar seriously since he was a teenager. After earning a degree in agriculture, Chris worked in land reclamation, and as a mining consultant. His job was to make sure that lands stripped of mines were reclaimed properly and cultivated.
But Chris Knight's career path took an abrupt turn in 1986. After hearing a Steve Earle song on the radio, he decided to try his hand at songwriting. Eight years after that, Chris Knight released his first album. Enough Rope, features the song "Dirt," a song about big companies coming in and taking over a small town, not caring about what happens to the residents who lose their farms and their church.
"Rural Route," another song on Chris Knight's Enough Rope CD, tackles the same sort of problems faced in "Dirt." This time, the protagonist tries to return to the small town in which he grew up, but soon realizes there's truth to the old saying "you can't go home again."
Like John Mellencamp and Steve Earle, Chris Knight often writes about the darker side of small town life. Enough Rope rocks a bit harder than his previous three albums, but it's filled with the same fine storytelling that has become Chris Knight's trademark.