definition of Wikipedia
For the drummer Steve Earle, see Afghan Whigs
Earle performing in 2007 at the Midlands Music Festival in Westmeath, Ireland
|Birth name||Stephen Fain Earle|
January 17, 1955 |
Hampton, Virginia United States
|Origin||San Antonio, Texas, United States|
|Genres||Country, rock and roll, folk|
|Occupations||Musician, Singer-songwriter, Author, Playwright|
|Instruments||Vocals, guitar, mandolin, harmonica, banjo, bouzouki, bass|
|Labels||Uni. MCA Nashville, New West, E² Records, Warner Bros.|
|Associated acts||Allison Moorer, Justin Townes Earle, Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt, Buddy Miller, Joan Baez, Del McCoury Band, Lucinda Williams, Stacey Earle|
Stephen Fain "Steve" Earle ( //; born January 17, 1955) is an American singer-songwriter known for his rock, folk and Texas Country as well as his political views. He is also a producer, author, political activist, actor, and has written and directed a play.
Earle was born on January 17, 1955, at Fort Monroe in Hampton, Virginia. He is the eldest son of Jack Earle, an air traffic controller, and Barbara Earle. Although he was born in Virginia where his father was stationed in the military, the family returned to Texas before Earle's second birthday. His ancestry is Irish Catholic on his mother's side and Scots-Irish on his father's side. They moved often during his childhood, primarily within Texas, but spent most of his formative years in and around San Antonio, Texas including East Terrell Hills, Converse, and Schertz. He dropped out of school in the 9th grade to move to Houston and learn more about the music business. Earle released his first album, Guitar Town, in 1986. His sister, Stacey Earle, is also a musician, having toured with her brother in the 1990s and sung on the song "When I Fall" on Earle's 2000 album, Transcendental Blues.
Earle has been married seven times, including twice to the same woman. His wives were Sandra "Sandy" Henderson, Cynthia Dunn, Carol-Ann Hunter (with whom he had his first child, Justin), Lou-Anne Gill (with whom he had a second son, Ian and a stepdaughter, Amy), Maria Teresa Ensenat, Lou-Anne Gill a second time, and finally, in 2005, singer-songwriter Allison Moorer. His first son, Justin Townes Earle, is also a musician, and is named for Townes Van Zandt. Earle and Moorer had their first child together, John Henry Earle, on April 5, 2010.
In 1975, Earle moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where he met Guy Clark and his wife Susanna. He appears in the 1975 film Heartworn Highways, which documents the songwriting scene in Nashville around Clark, including fellow Texas musicians Townes van Zandt and Rodney Crowell. Earle had already met Van Zandt in Texas, and refers to Clark and Van Zandt as his mentors and teachers. Clark was instrumental in Earle being hired as a songwriter by the Sunbury Dunbar publishing division of RCA. There he wrote songs for the likes of Carl Perkins, Johnny Lee, Vince Gill and Steve Wariner. His song "Mustang Wine" was due to be recorded by Elvis Presley in 1975, but Presley did not turn up for the recording session. The song was released as a single by Carl Perkins. He also wrote the Patty Loveless hit "A Little Bit in Love." Earle did backing vocals on "Desperados Waiting for a Train" (together with Emmylou Harris) on Clark's first album Old No. 1 and toured in Clark's band. In 1981 Earle achieved a top-ten cut with "When You Fall in Love," which was recorded by Johnny Lee. In 1985 one of his compositions "A Far Cry from You" was recorded by Connie Smith, who made the song a minor hit that year.
Earle's early work as a recorded performer was in the rockabilly style, and can be heard on his compilation album: Early Tracks. The album was recorded for Epic Records, but the company dropped Earle, only releasing the album in 1987 after he found success with MCA Nashville. Earle had to wait until 1986 before his first album, Guitar Town, was released by MCA. It was a critical success and was eventually certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America. The follow-up albums Exit 0 in 1987 and the certified-gold Copperhead Road, 1988, built on this success. With Copperhead Road, Earle moved to MCA Los Angeles and drew increasingly on Rock and roll influences.
Earle had been a substance abuser since an early age and was addicted to heroin for many years. By the time of his 1990 album The Hard Way, it started to become clear that the drugs were seriously affecting him. By 1992, due to his drug problem, he had discontinued performing and recording for two years, a period he refers to as his "vacation in the ghetto." He eventually ended up in jail on drug and firearms charges. Kicking the drug habit while in jail, Earle came out a new man and released two albums within 18 months of his release in late 1994. His comeback album, Train a Comin', was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Folk Album in 1996. Train a Comin' was a return to the country blues-influenced folk of Earle's early career and drew on his older catalog of unrecorded material.
Earle's post-jail musical career is more diversified than his early work. He set up his own record label with producer and engineer Ray Kennedy, allowing him increasing artistic control. This has led to experimentation with a range of styles from country and bluegrass music to folk and hard rock music. He has maintained a strict work ethic. Several albums have been released since. Earle also tours often, playing over 200 shows per year. His concerts tend to be either solo acoustic shows or ensemble affairs with one of his two backing bands, the Dukes or the Bluegrass Dukes.
Earle is the subject of the documentary film Just an American Boy, directed by Amos Poe, which explores his political views as well as his music. The film was shot while Earle was touring in support of his 2002 release Jerusalem. In 2005, he caused consternation among his fans by allowing the song The Revolution Starts Now to be used by General Motors in a TV advertisement for pick-up trucks. In 2006, Earle contributed a cover of Randy Newman's song "Rednecks" to the tribute album Sail Away: The Songs of Randy Newman. Earle is also the subject of two biographies, Steve Earle: Fearless Heart, Outlaw Poet, by the noted New York-based music writer David McGee and Hardcore Troubadour: The Life and Near Death of Steve Earle by Lauren St. John.
In September 2007, Earle released his twelfth studio album, Washington Square Serenade, on New West Records. Earle recorded the album after relocating to New York City, and it was his first attempt at using digital audio workstation ProTools, as opposed to traditional analog recording techniques. The disc features wife Allison Moorer on "Days Aren't Long Enough" and "Down Here Below." The album includes Earle's version of Tom Waits' song "Way Down in the Hole" which is featured as the theme song for the fifth season of The Wire in which Earle himself appears as Walon. In 2008, Earle produced Joan Baez's album Day After Tomorrow. (Prior to their collaboration on Day After Tomorrow, Baez had covered two Earle songs, "Christmas in Washington" and "Jerusalem," on previous albums.) In the winter, he toured Europe and North America in support of Washington Square Serenade, performing half the set solo and the other half with a DJ. On May 12, 2009, Earle released a tribute album, Townes, on New West Records. The album contains 15 songs written by his late friend and musical mentor Townes Van Zandt. Guest artists appearing on the album include Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine, Earle's wife Allison Moorer, and his son Justin Townes Earle. Both Washington Square Serenade and Townes also earned Grammy awards in the contemporary folk category.
Earle released his first novel and fourteenth studio album, both entitled I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive after a Hank Williams song, in the spring of 2011. The album was released on April 26, 2011 and was produced by T-Bone Burnett. Earle describes it as dealing with questions of mortality and having a "more country" sound than his earlier work. He plans a full band tour in support of the album in the summer of 2011.
Since his emergence as a performer, his songs have been covered by various well-known artists, including Joan Baez, The Pretenders, The Proclaimers, Eddi Reader, The Highwaymen, Waylon Jennings, Levon Helm, Emmylou Harris, Percy Sledge and Johnny Cash. Travis Tritt had a #7 country hit in 1995 with Earle's "Sometimes She Forgets."
In addition to music, Earle has written a collection of short stories called Doghouse Roses, several of which draw on his personal experiences as a musician and addict. The book was published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in June 2001. Earle has also written poetry and wrote and produced a play about the death penalty entitled Karla. The play was produced off-Broadway and focuses on the death of Karla Faye Tucker, who was the first woman excuted by the state of Texas since the death penalty was reinstated.
Earle's first novel, entitled I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive after a Hank Williams song, was published the spring of 2011. The novel is set in San Antonio in 1963, and tells the story of a defrocked doctor and morphine addict. The doctor makes a living by performing illegal abortions and is haunted by the ghost of Hank Williams, with whom he was traveling when Williams died of an overdose. The novel is published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt1.
Earle portrayed a recovering drug addict named Walon in several episodes of the HBO television series The Wire, created by David Simon. He appears first in season one where he addresses a 12-step-type meeting with an account of how he lost everything to addiction: "I pawned my pickup, my bike, and my National steel guitar, a stamp collection that my granddad left me; lost a good wife, a bad girlfriend, and the respect of anyone who ever lent me money." His story affects Bubbles and appears to spur him towards recovery. After season one, Walon does not return until Bubbles hits rock-bottom hard in the season four finale. Picking up the thread, he then appears throughout season five as sponsor, as Bubbles attempts to overcome his heroin addiction and its consequences. Earle's song "I Feel Alright" is used in a montage to close out season two. He also performs the opening theme of the fifth season, performing "Way Down in the Hole," a song written by Tom Waits.
Earle also played a supporting role as a drug dealer in Tim Blake Nelson's 2009 movie Leaves of Grass, starring Edward Norton. He also played a musician in the HBO series Treme, set in post-Katrina New Orleans. Earle's song "This City" can be heard over the closing credits of the first season finale. He was also one of several musicians who sang a mock charity appeal in the final episode of Season 3 of 30 Rock.
Earle's radio show on Air America began in August 2004 and last aired on June 10, 2007, and that was a rebroadcast of a past episode. Shortly thereafter, he started DJing on a show on Sirius Satellite Radio called Hardcore Troubadour on their Outlaw Country channel.
Since early in his career, Earle has been involved in a number of political causes. In his first public performances, Earle was unable to play in bars due to his age and took to playing in coffeehouses alongside anti-Vietnam War campaigners. These experiences had a strong effect on him, evidenced by his opposition to the Iraq War. He is also a regular participant in the "Concerts for a Landmine Free World," benefiting the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation.
Earle's mother took part in anti-death penalty vigils, a cause that has been taken up by Earle. He has worked to abolish the death penalty and has recorded several songs about this cause, including "Billy Austin," "Over Yonder (Jonathan's Song)" and "Ellis Unit One" for the 1995 film Dead Man Walking. Ellis Unit, located in Huntsville, Texas, previously housed the Texas male death row convicts, until it was moved to Polunsky Unit near Livingston, Texas. He exchanged letters with a prisoner on death row named Jonathan Wayne Nobles, the subject of "Over Yonder", and, at the request of Nobles, attended his execution in 1998. In 2010 Earle was awarded the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty's Shining Star of Abolition award.
In the early 2000s Earle's music was more explicitly political. His 2002 album, Jerusalem, was largely inspired by the US-led War on Terrorism. This album featured "John Walker's Blues," which was about the captured American Taliban fighter John Walker Lindh. Many accused Earle of sympathizing with terrorists as the song was written from Lindh's perspective. Earle responded that he was simply empathizing with Lindh and attempting to understand his motivation through song rather than glorifying or forgiving terrorism. He said that, as a parent, he was moved by pictures of Lindh bound to a stretcher. "For some reason when I saw him on TV, I related it to my son. That skinny and that age, exactly. I thought, he's got parents somewhere, and they must be sick. "
His 2004 album, The Revolution Starts Now, which features several songs relating to the Iraq War, was deliberately released to coincide with the run-up to the 2004 US presidential election, with the aim of encouraging votes for John Kerry. The song "The Revolution Starts Now" was used in the promotion of Michael Moore's anti-war documentary film Fahrenheit 9/11 and appears on the album Songs and Artists That Inspired Fahrenheit 9/11, the songs for which were selected by Moore. The song also opened Earle's weekly Sunday-night show on Air America Radio. He appears in the 2008 political documentary Slacker Uprising.
While Earle's work subsequent to The Revolution Starts Now is less explicitly political, he continues to support activist causes and his albums and stage banter include political references. During the second half of his 2011 tour with The Dukes and Duchesses featuring Allison Moorer, the drum kit was adorned with the slogan "we are the 99%" a clear reference to the occupy movement which began in September that year.
Steve Earle's songs have appeared in many major motion pictures and television as writer and performer.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Steve Earle|
|First Amendment Center/AMA "Spirit of Americana" Free Speech Award
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