FEARLESS HEART, OUTLAW POET
A WILD RIDE THROUGH GUITAR TOWN
BY DAVID MCGEE
This book examines the life and music of Steve Earle, one of the most important and controversial singer-songwriters of our time. Through in-depth interviews with family members, producers, musicians, and with Earle himself, this volume traces Steve's journey from southeast Texas to his debut No. 1 country album, Guitar Town and his descent into drug addiction, and on to his triumphant comeback with Train a-Comin' and his subsequent challenging projects with co-producer Ray Kennedy. Rosanne Cash, Rodney Crowell, Peter Rowan, and Norman Blake are among the artists who offer insights into Earle's music. - AMAZON.COM
OUT OF FIVE STARS
While wandering through the Boulder (CO) Bookstore I found this book (the only one) on the discount table. The book is dated, having been published in 2005 but it is still a great read.
Unlike (which I personally think was poorly written & a piece of garbage) Hardcore Troubadour: The Life and Near Death of Steve Earle which fixated on Steve Earle's sordid drug past and multiple marriages (read for yourself):
A biography of a legendary singer and song-writer, written with his exclusive and unfettered cooperation, this is the life behind the award-winning and bestselling albums of Steve Earle, rebel, rocker, and Nashville legend. Steve Earle is the musicians' idol who has said of his life "If I'd known I was going to live this long, I'd have taken better care of myself". He was taking heroin at 13, and by the age of 40 was mired in a seemingly permanent "vacation in the ghetto" as he described his life then. In and out of jail for a variety of offences, Earle seemed determined to make good on his boast that when the end of the world came (and it seemed pretty close at times) only he, Keith Richards and the cockroaches would be left standing. Not yet 50, he has been married six times, twice to the same woman, and amazingly forgiven by almost all of the ex-wives. In moments of consciousness he has, through sheer musical ability, shared a stage with, among others, Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, Sheryl Crow, the Pogues and Bob Dylan. - AMAZON.COM...
...this book focuses primarily on his albums and the writing and recording process, with his well documented problems with drugs being secondary, which is refreshing since Steve has been drug and alcohol free for over twenty years. He is now a successful singer, songwriter, playwright, actor, political activist, and writer.
Since the book is dated, the album reviews/recording descriptions only go up to The Revolution Starts Now, so you won't be able to read about how the artist has progressed musically to albums such as Townes, The Low Highway, Terraplane, and other albums since 2005 but it made me start listening to his older recordings in a different way and has changed the way I appreciate both his songwriting and singing. And I have been a life long Steve Earle fan. I have his entire catalog and have seen him in concert eight times in seven different states. When I first saw Steve Earle in concert, the audience was primarily rowdy ass bikers. I last saw him in August in Boulder, and the average age of the audience had to have been close to fifty. I once saw Steve Earle in Kansas City and had a guy sitting next to me drinking shots of tequila and screaming out for Guitar Town all night long. He finally vomited all over himself and passed out in his chair just before Earle played the tune the lush wanted to hear so badly.
There is much more to the singer than Copperhead Road as this book shows (just as there is more to the original Lynyrd Skynyrd than Free Bird) , but I think only true and dedicated fans will truly enjoy it.
Personally, I think these are Steve Earle's top five albums:
1. TRAIN A COMIN'
2. EL CORAZON
3. TRANSCENDENTAL BLUES
4. THE MOUNTAIN
With COPPERHEAD ROAD a close runner up.
Supposedly, Steve Earle has a publishing contract to write a book about his wild, pre-sober days with Townes Van Zandt and once that has been finished and published, the true story about his sordid past will be then put to rest. I'll buy the book - and Earle is a damn good writer - since I am a huge fan but I really don't give a shit about his past. To me, he his the best singer/songwriter walking the planet today. Bar none! Plus, I think those experiences helped make him the great musician that he is today.
Since this book was written, Steve has been married and divorced for the seventh time. He was married to singer Allison Moorer for five years which he said is a personal record. If I was married to Allison Moorer and she divorced me, I think I would have to kill myself!