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Q&A: Steve Earle

The singer-songwriter reveals all about getting divorced, getting older and finally getting the blues.

I do have this archaic thing about me,” says Steve Earle with a chuckle. He’s not talking about his upcoming 60th birthday or his long, greying beard, but rather an ongoing affinity for mining rich veins of classic American music. On his latest album Terraplane, it’s rock-solid blues, with eleven tales of loneliness, love gone wrong and hair-raising encounters with mean women and ol’ Scratch himself. Talking on the phone from his apartment in New York, Earle is candid about getting older, staying relevant and the end of his marriage to singer Allison Moorer.

What was your introduction to the blues?

Growing up in Texas, I saw Freddie King a lot. I saw Johnny Winter. When I was in junior high school, ZZ Top were still playing the odd prom around Texas. Those first two albums they did before Tres Hombres are as much a part of my definition of the blues as anything. One of the people who really helped me out musically, besides Townes Van Zandt, was Rocky Hill. Rocky’s brother Dusty plays bass with ZZ Top. Rocky’s gone now – he passed away about five years ago. But Rocky, Dusty and Frank Beard were originally a trio called American Blues. I saw Rocky a lot. He’s kind of the lost, great Texas blues guitarist. 

Terraplane is released on February 16 via New West.

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