Steve Earle est un musicien américain né en janvier 1955, apparu au public avec la scène country alternative du début des années 1980.
Steve Earle (born Stephen Fain Earle January 17, 1955) is an American singer-songwriter, well known for his rock and country music, as well as for his many political views. He is also a published writer, a political activist and has written and directed a play.
In his early career, he was seen as a saviour of country music and labeled by some as the « new Bruce Springsteen ». In the later part of his career, after troubles with the law and drug addiction and due to his uncompromising viewpoints, he has become known as « the hardcore troubadour« .
Steve Earle passe ses dernières années d’adolescence à parcourir le Texas en stop avec sa guitare dans le but de devenir un grand hors-la-loi de la musique country comme Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson ou Townes Van Zandt.
Il arrive à Nashville en 1974 avec 6 dollars en poche et commence à jouer avec le songwriter texan Guy Clark (à ne pas confondre avec Gene Clark, membre des Byrds).
Il sort son premier album Guitar Town en 1986 seulement et se retrouve à la tête du mouvement néo-country ou Alt-Country avec Dwight Yoakam.
L’album suivant, Exit O est trop rock au goût de Nashville. Ce qui ne dérange pas Earle qui continue son chemin, imperturbable.
En 1988 sort l’album Copperhead Road qui encore une fois mélange morceaux Country et Rock. Il y ajoute aussi une touche irlandaise avec la chanson Johnny come Lately enregistrée avec The Pogues. Maria McKee, ex-Lone Justice, participe aussi pour une chanson.
À cette époque, Steve Earle qui a déjà quatre mariages derrière lui se marie une cinquième fois et déménage à Los Angeles. Il se laisse alors aller à la drogue et devient accro au crack. Viré par sa maison de disque MCA, il revient à Nashville, se sépare de sa femme, et s’enfonce plus encore dans la drogue. 1993 et 1994 sont deux années terribles passées drogué à errer dans les rues de Nashville.
Il reprend une relation avec sa quatrième épouse, Lou-Ann Gill (selon Steve, il se sont réunis « parce que leur divorce n’a pas marché ») mais se fait arrêter peu après pour possession d’héroïne. Il se cache un temps en Géorgie, puis se rend lorsqu’il apprend par le journal qu’il est condamné à un an de prison seulement. Il purge sa peine dans un pénitencier du Tennessee, ou il doit se désaccoutumer des drogues sans assistance médicale. Il est finalement libéré avant la fine de sa peine pour avoir accepté de suivre une cure de désintoxication.
Libéré en novembre 1994, il se précipite en studio et enregistre l’album acoustique Train A Comin’. Puis pratiquement dans la foulée I Feel Alright, album rock et country, dans la lignée de Copperhead road, qui sort en 1996 sur le label E-Squared qu’il a formé avec Jack Emerson, ex-manager de Jason and the Scorchers et Georgia Satellite.
Les albums suivants le voient passer du Bluegrass avec l’album The Mountain enregistré avec The Del McCoury Band (en 1999) a un son plus rock avec The Revolution Starts …Now en 2004.
En 2002, il est au cœur de la controverse après la sortie de son album Jerusalem qui comprend une chanson intitulée John Walker’s Blues écrite à la première personne sur le taliban américain John Walker Lindh.
Il est aussi producteur pour ses propres albums ainsi que pour d’autres artistes signé sur son label tel The V-Roys (album Just Add Ice, en 1996).
Guéri de ses mauvaises habitudes, Steve Earle malgré les difficultés reste fidèle à lui-même et tient à son indépendance rebelle, inclassable entre rock et country.
De son propre aveu : « Quand quelqu’un me dit de faire quelque chose, j’y réfléchi généralement quelques secondes, et je fais exactement l’opposé. »
Guitar Town, (1986, MCA)
Exit 0, (1987, MCA)
Copperhead Road, (1988,MCA)
The Hard Way, (1990,MCA)
Shut Up And Die Like An Aviator, (1991,MCA), album live
Train A Comin’, (1995, Winter Harvest)
I Feel Alright, (1996, Warner)
El Corazon, (1997, Warner)
The Mountain, (1999), avec The Del McCoury Band
Transcendental Blues, (2000)
Sidetracks, (2002, E-Squared)
Jerusalem, (2002, E-Squared)
The Revolution Starts …Now, (2004, E-Squared)
Live At Montreux 2005, (2006, Eagle Records)
Washington Square Serenade, (2007, New West Records
Steal This Movie (B.O.F), (2000), Time Has Come Today, en duo avec Sheryl Crow
Por Vida, a tribute to the songs of Alejandro Escovedo, (2004), Paradise
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Stephen Fain Earle was born on January 17, 1955 at Fort Monroe in Hampton, Virginia.
He was the eldest son of Jack Earle, an air traffic controller, and Barbara Earle. Although his parents moved around the U.S. often during his childhood, he spent several of his formative years in Schertz, Texas. He dropped out of school in the 8th grade to move to Houston, Texas and learn more about the music business. Steve released his first album, Guitar Town, in 1986. His sister, Stacey Earle, is a musician herself, having toured with Steve in the 1990s and sang on the song « When I Fall » on Steve’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 Hunter (with whom he had his first child, Justin), Lou-Anne Gill (with whom he had a second son, Ian), Maria Teresa Ensenat, Lou-Anne Gill a second time, and finally in 2005, singer-songwriter Allison Moorer. He also has a daughter. His first son, Justin Townes Earle, was named for Townes Van Zandt.
In 1975, he moved to Nashville, Tennessee where he met and worked with fellow Texans Guy Clark and his wife Susanna. Guy was instrumental in Steve being employed as a songwriter by the Sunburry Dunbar publishing division of RCA. Steve did backing vocals on Guy Clark’s « Desperados Waiting For A Train » together with Emmylou Harris on Clark’s first album « Old No 1 ».
Despite his early success as a songwriter, it was not until 1981 that he achieved a top ten cut with « When You Fall in Love », which was recorded by Johnny Lee.
His early work as a recorded performer was in the rockabilly style, and can be heard on the « Early Years » album. He had to wait until 1986, though, before his first proper album, « Guitar Town », was released. It was a critical success and sold over 300,000 copies. The follow-up albums « Exit 0 » and « Copperhead Road » the video for which was directed by Tony van den Ende, built on this success.
Earle had been a drug user 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. In 1993, his drug problems resulted in him effectively stopping 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, the acoustic Train A Comin’, was nominated for the « Best Contemporary Folk Album » Grammy Award in 1996.
Earle’s « second, post-jail musical career » has been noticeably more musically diverse than his early work. Since setting up his own record label, he has been able to follow his own artistic direction, rather than being constrained by the Nashville country pop-rock sound. This has led to experimentation with a range of styles from country and bluegrass music to folk and hard rock music. He maintained a strict work ethic. Several albums have been released since, as well as a book of haiku and a collection of short stories called Doghouse Roses. He also wrote and directed a play about the death penalty. 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 appeared as a recovering drug addict named Walon in two episode of the first season the HBO series « The Wire ». He addresses a 12-step-type meeting with an account of how he lost everything to addiction: »I pawned my bike, my pickup truck, a National Steel guitar, lost a good wife, a bad girlfriend, and the respect of anyone who ever lent me money. » He has reprised the role occasionally in subsequent seasons.
Earle is the subject of a documentary film entitled Just an American Boy, directed by Amos Poe, which explores his political views as well as his music. 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.
Earle is also the subject of an acclaimed biography, Steve Earle: Fearless Heart, Outlaw Poet, by the noted New York-based music writer David McGee.
Steve Earle songs have appeared in many major motion pictures and television as writer and performer. Brokeback Mountain (2005) (writer: « Devil’s Right Hand ») (performer: « Devil’s Right Hand ») Silver City (2004) (writer: « Amerika v. 6.0 ») (performer: « Amerika v. 6.0 ») Stevie (2002) (writer: « I Ain’t Ever Satisfied ») (performer: « I Ain’t Ever Satisfied ») The Rookie (2002) (writer: « Some Dreams ») (performer: « Some Dreams ») Last Party 2000 (2001) (writer: « Over Yonder (Jonathan’s Song) ») (performer: « Over Yonder (Jonathan’s Song) ») .. aka The Party’s Over (USA: video title) Big Bad Love (2001) (performer: « Goodbye ») The Pledge (2001) (writer: « The Other Side of Town ») (performer: « The Other Side of Town ») Pay It Forward (2000) (writer: « Open Your Window ») (performer: « Open Your Window ») You Can Count on Me (2000) (writer: « I’m Still In Love With You », « Harlan Man », « Texas Eagle », « The Mountain », « Pilgrim ») (performer: « I’m Still In Love With You », « Harlan Man », « Texas Eagle », « The Mountain », « Pilgrim ») The Horse Whisperer (1998) (writer: « Me and the Eagle ») (performer: « Me and the Eagle ») G.I. Jane (1997) (writer: « Goodbye ») Sgt. Bilko (1996) (writer: « Sometimes She Forgets ») … aka Sergeant Bilko The Beverly Hillbillies (1993) (performer: « Honey don’t ») (producer: « Honey don’t »)
In 2006, several Steve Earle songs were featured in the movie Talladega Nights: « Valentine’s Day », « Hard-Core Troubadour » and « I Feel Alright ». In 2007, Earle’s song, « Someday » off his 1986 hit record, Guitar Town was featured the movie Bridge to Terabithia.
In September, 2007, Steve Earle released his 12th 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. »
In late 2007, he will be producing Joan Baez’s next album.
In the winter of 2008, he will tour Europe and North America in support of Washington Square Serenade, performing half the set solo and the other half with a DJ.
Steve Earle has received a total of eleven nominations for Grammy Awards.
Earle was named Country Artist of the year for 1986 by Rolling Stone magazine.
In 2004 he was given a Lifetime Achievement Award for songwriting by the UK’s BBC Radio 2.
In February 2005 he received a Grammy Award for best contemporary folk album for The Revolution Starts Now.
Earle co-wrote the Jason & The Scorchers song « A Bible & A Gun ».
Sang on Jason Ringenberg’s re-recording of « A Bible & A Gun » in 2002.
Johnny Come Lately was recorded and performed live with The Pogues.
Worked with the Supersuckers, recording their song « Creepy Jackalope Eye » and his song « NYC » -1996
Recorded covers of Alejandro Escovedo’s « Paradise » and Warren Zevon’s « Reconsider Me » with Reckless Kelly, for Escovedo and Zevon tribute albums.
Sang backup vocals on the title track of Bruce Springsteen’s Lucky Town.
Collaborated with the Del McCoury Band on 1999’s « The Mountain. »
Duets with Lucinda Williams on « You’re Still Standing There »
Duet with Chris Hillman on High Fashion Queen for the Gram Parsons’ tribute album, Return of the Grievous Angel: A Tribute to Gram Parsons
Duet with Siobhan Maher Kennedy on Poison Lovers
Duet with Emmylou Harris on Comin’ around, Goodbye, I remember you.
Duet with Stacey Earle on When I Fall.
Emmylou Harris also recorded her own version of Goodbye (written by Earle) for her Wrecking Ball album – Earle plays guitar and sings on this version.
Sheryl Crow co-wrote Go Amanda, which appeared on Jerusalem.
Sheryl Crow sings on Steve’s cover of Time Has Come Today, which appeared on Sidetracks album
Songwriting for other artists
Before Earle was signed as an artist in his own right, he was employed as a songwriter, writing songs for the likes of Carl Perkins, 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 co-wrote the Patty Loveless song Some Blue Moons Ago.
Since his emergence as a performer, his songs have been covered by various well known artists including Joan Baez, The Pretenders, The Proclaimers, The Highwaymen, Emmylou Harris and Johnny Cash.
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