“You write about what you know,” said a seemingly taken aback Steve Earle when asked about what many would consider a “Chequered Past.” “I got married a lot back in the ’80’s if that’s what you’re talking about. I’m retiring from that; defeated. All of those experiences and more can’t help but creep in to your work.”
Once called the “New face of outlaw country,” Earle took a four year hiatus during the mid-nineties amidst what many consider to have been the prime of his career. Intravenous drug use, jail time and recovery ruled his life during this period and all became fodder for his ingenious songwriting capabilities.
Seven marriages to six different women and the dissolution of those units in the decade of the ’80’s proceeded his success and his disappearance in the ’90’s but yet Earle somehow has managed to produce 16 studio recordings. The latest effort, “Colvin & Earle,” is not a solo album but a duo work with current touring partner Shawn Colvin and they’ll be performing in support of that release at 8 p.m. on July 20 at the Bergen PAC in Englewood, NJ. “It was just released on June 10 on Fantasy Records,“ explained a now enthusiastic Earle. “It’s been number one on the Americana charts the last couple of weeks. It took us about a week to do it and we both kinda needed to do this. We got Buddy Miller to produce it, who is a tremendous songwriter and he makes great records; he was in the last season of “Nashville” when he came available so we reached out. Buddy and I have worked together before on the show so we are familiar with each other.”
Perhaps no greater compliment can come to a songwriter than that of when one of their peers asks to record their work. Earle has had his material recorded by Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Travis Tritt, Vince Gill, Patty Loveless, Emmylou Harris and more as well as current stage mate Colvin. “Well,” he started with some hesitation. “It’s, well we think it’s kinda fun. I don’t mind hearing the song she’s done the way she does it and we think it’s a lot of fun to share a stage together. The way we sing together; there’s just something special about it.and the two of us have a great connection on stage. The others? Well, I was never able to make a living at it but it is definitely a big deal when you hear a song you wrote on the radio for the first time no matter who has recorded it.”
The current tour kicked off in “Earnest” in Burlington, VT with warm up dates in London, England, Boston, Washington, DC and New York City. Earle says that it’s, “Going great” thus far and that those in attendance at the PAC are in for a smattering of various selections. The self titled debut disc has 10 tracks and Earle says that they will be on the menu. “We only have one album,” he said with a laugh, “So we’ll be playing that plus our own solo material and maybe a bonus track here or there; they won’t be disappointed (laughs).”
A renewed sense of purpose seems to have Earle motivated and ready to regain his touring legs as his future plans include this current tour which runs through September and a new release come the Fall. “I’m putting out a new record in November and recording it in Austin, TX; I’ve never recorded there and I’m from Texas. This one is going to be a country record. I’d like to think that this would’ve been the record I’d made after “Guitar Town” had Jim Boggio not pissed me off; I think it’ll be more of a country record this time.”
As his voice trailed off, so did the time. Earle had more interviews and rehearsals to prep for. However, this incredibly talented man, along with his beautiful partner Shawn Colvin, is ready to take over the Bergen PAC; who is to say they won’t succeed?
To discover more about Steve Earle, please visit www.steveearle.com and to find out more about Shawn Colvin; please go to www.shawncolvin.com. To purchase tickets which range in price from $29 to $69 dollars; please check out at www.bergenpac.org
Danny Coleman (Danny Coleman is a veteran musician and writer from central New Jersey. He hosts a weekly radio program entitled “Rock On Radio” airing Sunday evenings at 10 p.m. EST on multiple internet radio outlets where he features indie/original bands and solo artists.)