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Steve Earle at Powell’s

May 25, 2011

Renaissance Man Steve Earle Plays Powell’s

Steve Earle 5xSteve Earle, musician, songwriter, actor and now author of his debut novel, I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive, was at Powell’s Tuesday night.  Around 100 fans showed up to hear him read, answer questions and sign books. He got the reading started with a drink from a Dr. Pepper which he referred to as “Christian crack.”  Clean and sober for some time now after years of addiction to alcohol and heroin, he said, “I stay sober by going to meetings and calling my sponsors.”

Earle said the book “is about a defrocked doctor living in San Antonio, Texas in 1963 and he is a heroin addict and supports his habit by performing abortions.”  The main character, Doc Ebersole, is rumored to have given Hank Williams the final morphine dose that killed him.  Earle thought it was going to be a simple ghost story but “the book turned out to be a Harry Potter book for adults.”

An album by him with the same name has just been released and Earle says that both the book and the album are about “mortality and spirituality.” The much ballyhooed producer, T Bone Burnett, performed his magic on the album about which Earle said, “There are some things in this world that are everything they’re cracked up to be and T Bone is one of them.”

When asked about the difference between writing a book as opposed to a song, Earle responded, “It’s not completely different. The way I write songs is more like prose than poetry most of the time. I’m always proud of myself when I come up with something a little more poetic.” On people who influenced him he said, “I had two great teachers: Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark.  They were actually polar opposite song writers.Townes was very poetic. I write more like Guy – prose that just happens to rhyme. It’s a narrative usually. I tell a story from beginning to end.  I learned to tell a pretty complicated story in four minutes.”

Earle talked about moving to NYC from Nashville six years ago for a lot of reasons but the main one being, “If I get my wings clipped, in other words, if I have a heart attack or a stroke and I can’t get around…did I want to get my wings clipped in Nashville, Tennessee and the answer was no. I’d rather be one of those old commies in a powered wheelchair that runs over my foot on Bleecker Street. It seems like a better deal to me.”

The HBO series Treme, in which Earle has a small role, has been picked up for a third season.  He is also working on a play and starting the album tour. About his incredible multi-tasking, Earle commented dryly, “I’m supporting half the women in Tennessee so I need to work.”

Earle will perform at Portland’s Crystal Ballroom on June 10. See you there!

I'll Never Get Out of This World AliveHoughton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011

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