Steve Earle and Bruce Springsteen are very similar artists in many ways including lyrical styles, wide-ranging musical influences, and the content and meaning of their work. While Springsteen’s recording career started with Greetings From Asbury Park in 1973, Earle began as a song writer in Nashville before releasing his first studio album in 1982, Pink and Black.
The above songs were released within weeks of each other, Earle’s Satellite Radio was released on Washington Square Serenade on September 25, 2007, and Springsteen’s Radio Nowhere was released on Magic on October 2, 2007. Earle’s song uses loop beats and samples that drive the song along while he asks, “Is there anyone out there listening/One, two, three/On the satellite radio?” Springsteen’s song asks a similar question while using a hard-driving rock sound, “This is radio nowhere, is there anyone alive out there?” This line is a classic Springsteen call and response from his concerts when he demands to know from the audience, “Is there anyone alive out there tonight?” After which the crowd responds with a hearty roar.
While in 2007, the idea and popularity of satellite radio such as Sirius/XM was new to many people, what is ironic is that both artists have their own entrenched places “spinnin’ around a dead dial’ as Springsteen has his own channel, E Street Radio, Channel 20 on Sirius/XM, and Earle has his own show, The Steve Earle Hour: Hardcore Troubadour Radio on Outlaw Country, Sirius/XM 60 which plays on Saturday nights, 8 pm central. Both songs ask the eternal question of artists down through time:
At the galaxy’s end where the stars burn bright
Are you tunin’ in and turnin’ on?
Is there anybody listening to the earth tonight
On the satellite radio?