Browse by Title
A B C D E F G
H I J K L M N
O P Q R S T U
V W X Y Z #  




Ellis Unit One

by

Steve Earle



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

Songwriter Steve Earle is well known as a vocal opponent of capital punishment; this is perhaps his best known song on this theme, and certainly his most poignant. Written from the viewpoint of a prison guard who is obviously not happy with this side of his employment, "Ellis Unit One" is performed magnificently by Earle with just his acoustic guitar.
Ellis Unit (E1) is located near Huntsville, Texas; it was established in 1965. According to official Texas Department of Criminal Justice on-line documentation, Death Row was transferred to Ellis Unit the same year, and then to Polunsky Unit in 1999. A total of 361 inmates were sent to the electric chair in Texas, but in 1977, lethal injection was adopted as the means of execution, something which is mentioned by Earle in the song. (thanks, Alexander Baron - London, England, for above 2)
Earle contributed this song to the soundtrack of the film Dead Man Walking, which is about a prisoner on death row. Tim Robbins, who directed the movie, sent a rough cut of the film to Earle, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Waits and several other artists asking for songs that fit the theme of the movie.
Steve Earle
Steve Earle Artistfacts
More Steve Earle songs
More songs with political statements
More songs with numbers in the title
More acoustic songs

Comments (2):

he sings songs from the point of view of ALL involved in an execution...check out "Billy Austin"
- michael, buffalo, NY
The Ellis Unit provides a living for many of the people in the East Texas area. Incidentally the 'Walls' Steve refers to is the nickname of a prison unit in downtown Huntsville, Texas. It's called the Walls Unit because of the prison's red brick walls. You can drive right past it even today.
- Wayne, Crockett, TX
You have to to post comments.
dUg Pinnick of King's XdUg Pinnick of King's X
dUg dIgs into his King's X metal classics and his many side projects, including the one with Jeff Ament of Pearl Jam.
Boz ScaggsBoz Scaggs
The "Lowdown" and "Lido Shuffle" singer makes a habit of playing with the best in the business.
Concert DisastersConcert Disasters
Ozzy biting a dove? Alice Cooper causing mayhem with a chicken? Creed so bad they were sued? See if you can spot the real concert mishaps.
Bass Player Scott EdwardsBass Player Scott Edwards
Scott was Stevie Wonder's bass player before becoming a top session player. Hits he played on include "I Will Survive," "Being With You" and "Sara Smile."