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Steve Earle - modern day Renaissance man

Musician and author Steve Earle with AirTalk host Larry Mantle.
Musician and author Steve Earle with AirTalk host Larry Mantle.
Photo by: Joe Armstrong

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Artists are routinely reminded to write what they know, and "hard core troubadour" Steve Earle has had the kind of experiences that allows him to tell stories of a hardscrabble life with an honest pen. Earle’s 1986 album, Guitar Town, brought him early success that exacerbated his substance abuse problems - and by the early 90s he had been imprisoned on gun and drug charges. After kicking a heroin addiction in jail, Earle was released in 1994 and began a very productive artistic period, releasing 2 acclaimed albums in an 18-month period. Aside from his day job as a successful musician, his resume also includes turns as an actor, playwright, activist, producer, teacher and satellite radio host. His highest profile gigs have been roles on a pair of incisive HBO shows; Earle played a recovering junkie on The Wire and currently plays a New Orleans busker on Treme. Earle’s recently published first novel, I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive, is filled with a kind of gritty authenticity that only someone who has been to hell and made it back can describe. Does struggle and strife lead to great art? Is there a better way? What are your favorite Steve Earle albums, songs or characters?


Steve Earle, musician, actor, playwright, activist and author of the novel I’ll Never Get Out Of This World Alive (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), and a new album of the same name