Jan 152021
 

This one is a tough article to write my friends, because I truly enjoyed the music of Mr. Justin Townes Earle. Like many others, I had a terrible year here in Ky.  I too like Mr. Justin had a few bouts with addiction, and I had to check myself into rehab in February.

As soon as I was released from rehab, and began to live again I went back into work for three days…then came covid. I was sent home and told to report to unemployment for 4 months. I stopped writing for the website the entire year and when I was home, I snuck up to Wisconsin and picked up my daughter. I had to get her straightened out!

While we were all quarantined at home, the world of music lost a TON of Legends and artists including this man..a young budding ( but troubled ) artist with only a handful of albums named Justin Townes Earle.

I have always thought with as many of then I actually know personally, it must be the toughest challenge to have a famous last name. I couldn’t imagine having to constantly live up to his father’s echelon of notoriety to the “regular” music fans out there. Can you imagine pouring out your heart with songs like “Learning To Cry”, and after the show some dumb ass comes up asking for “Copperhead Road”?

He struggled all alone to pave his own path through local music communities and also through Nashville with ardent appetency to do it all alone, and with a fan base all his own. His songwriting had a different habile, and it had a style all it’s own. If another artist covered his songs, you could easily ascertain it was indeed a Justin Townes Earle song.

When they found Mr. Justin dead many websites went on tangents to release police reports and speculations…predictions…prognostications…blah blah blah. He had demons and hurdles like WE ALL DO. I’m NOT going to sit my ass on this recliner and PRETEND I am a “journalist” and it’s “my duty” to bring you that crap..I’m going to tell you that we lost ONE HELL of an artist, a fine fellow and a terrific songwriter.

You can damn sure bet I’ll be delving further into this album as it culminates into fruition for public consumption. I’m back my friends, and I’m in the BEST SHAPE I have been in years….Just pray for the Saint Of Lost Causes.

Track Listing.

I.  Don’t Care
2. Ain’t Glad I’m Leaving
3. Maria
4. Far Away in Another Town
5.  They Killed John Henry
6. Turn Out My Lights
7. Lone Pine Hill
8. Champagne Corolla
9. The Saint of Lost Causes
10. Harlem River Blues
11. Last Words
On the forthcoming album, J.T., Steve Earle & The Dukes pay tribute to Steve’s late son, Justin Townes Earle (J.T.), who passed away on August 20, 2020 in Nashville. The album will be released digitally on what would have been Justin’s 39th birthday, January 4, 2021, CD and vinyl formats will release March 19, 2021.

The first track, “Harlem River Blues” is available to stream today. The poignant song is one of Justin’s best-known compositions and took Song of the Year honors at the 2011 Americana Music Awards ceremony following Justin’s win in the Emerging Artist of the Year category in 2009.

100% of the artist advances and royalties from J.T. will be donated to a trust for Etta St. James Earle, the three-year-old daughter of Justin and Jenn Earle. While somber in parts, the album is ultimately a rousing celebration of a life lived with passion and purpose.

 

J.T.

Digital Album Available Today

Stream the new album featuring songs from Justin Townes Earle

CD / Vinyl available March 19

A note from Steve… 

Justin Townes Earle left this world a little over a mile from where he came in, having seen more of it than most folks in his thirty-eight years before his all too short arc brought him right back to where he started from; Nashville, Tennessee.

The evening Justin was born, in what was then called Baptist Hospital, his mother, Carol, exhausted after 36 hours in labor fell immediately into a deep sleep and I was left staring into the eyes of my first-born son. After a while, a kindly nurse asked if I would like to carry him to the nursery myself. I don’t know how I ever negotiated the walk down the hall without tripping over my own two feet. I couldn’t take my eyes off him and he looked right back at me, hardly blinking, as if to say, “I know you.” After a bit of a gentle tug-of-war at the nursery door I reluctantly relinquished custody to the nurse.

My arms had never felt so empty.

Suddenly it occurred to me that I hadn’t spoken to any of my family back in Texas since I’d phoned early the day before to let them know that Carol was in labor and we were headed for the hospital.

I beelined for the payphones in the waiting room and was relieved to find a quarter in my pocket (not a given at that point in my career). I dropped it in the slot and dialed my parents’ number in Houston. My Dad answered and immediately upon hearing his voice, I burst into tears and apologized for every shitty thing I’d ever said or done to him, which was a litany.

Carol and I split up when Justin was 3 and he shuttled between our households, sometimes voluntarily sometimes not, until he left home. That event occurred pretty organically when he accompanied me on a teaching sabbatical to the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago.

Justin was playing by that time, having gone from post-mortem Nirvana fan to acoustic blues practitioner by way of Kurt Cobain’s WHERE DID YOU SLEEP LAST NIGHT. He’d only been interested in electric guitar until seeing Cobain hunched over the big Martin acoustic on MTV Unplugged so I pointed him towards the original recorded version in my record collection. Leadbelly was next to Lightnin’ Hopkins and Lightnin’ next to Mance Lipscomb and next thing I knew he was playing stuff I’d been trying to sort out for years. The original idea of Justin going to Chicago (besides just keeping an eye on him) was that he would take a few classes at the Old Town School, but within a few weeks he was TEACHING fingerstyle guitar. By the time I completed my eight-week course and returned home Justin had turned 18 and elected to remain behind.

He was back in Nashville six months later and, musically, things began to develop rapidly. A jug band, a rock band, a short stint as a Duke, but, lo and behold he’d begun to come up with songs of his own and they were really fucking good. He would release 8 full length albums and an EP over 13 years during which our paths crossed infrequently, usually on the road. Ironically, we both sat out the last summer of his life in Tennessee, grounded by pandemic, unable to escape to the only place either one of us ever felt at home.

The Highway.

We spoke often those last few months, saw each other a handful of times and I talked to him the night he died. I am grateful for that.

This record is called J.T. because he was never called anything else until he was nearly grown.

Well, when he was little, I called him Cowboy.

For better or worse, right or wrong, I loved Justin Townes Earle more than anything else on this earth. That being said, I made this record, like every other record I’ve ever made… for me. It was the only way I knew to say goodbye.

See you when I get there, Cowboy,

Dad

 

Chicago Cubs Red & Blue Vinyl
The blue and red pressings are a tribute to Justin’s favorite team, the Chicago Cubs. 
“Harlem River Blues” // Steve Earle & The Dukes, J.T.

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