The album Steve Earle never wanted to make: a tribute to his son

“When you get out there, there will be this combined audience of people who are curious about what Steve Earl’s son looks like, or what Waylon Jennings’ son looks like,” Jennings said. “So there is a little distrust of the audience from the start. Are they here because they love my music, or are they here because they like my father’s music?”

To record a “JT” Earl, with the help of his 33-year-old son Ian, spoiled Justin’s business into a list of 10 songs – two of which, “Turn Out My Lights” and “Far Away in Other Town,” Justin wrote with Scottie Milton – and booked a week at Electric Lady Studios at New York.

He worked quickly, texting his preparatory notes. By the time they started recording, Justin had been dead for less than two months. (They start the sessions before October 20.) Earl, who had avoided speaking publicly about Justin’s death, wanted the album to be his manifesto.

He was also wary of being chained into a monument to anyone else.

“I did not want me to be asked to be on the tribute register with so many people whom I thought were definitely auxiliaries and helped kill him,” said Earl, his words filled with insults. “So I thought the way to get this out of the bud was to do my own recording.”

At this point in his career, Earl – who wore eyeglasses, had a long beard full of salt and pepper – was a Renaissance man who had always been the subject of death and addiction to him. In addition to his many albums, Earl has written a play about him Woman sentenced to death And a narration about Ghost of Hank WilliamsAnd I contributed music to The last play About the West Virginia Mining Disaster. He recently wrote a science fiction story for TV.

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The night before the first session of “JT,” the Earl gathered the band in his apartment for a sushi meal. Long-time Earl engineer Ray Kennedy remembers time in Electric Lady as festive but focused. They start every day at 10 a.m. and finish by 4 p.m., so that Earl can take care of his youngest son, John Henry, 10, who has autism.

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