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The revolution starts with Steve Earle

By Dan MacIntosh, September 2004

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"Baseball's the one thing that doesn't have anything to do with politics," Earle states emphatically. "I have a theory that - just as all bikers want to be Hell's Angels - all baseball players want to be New York Yankees, secretly somewhere on the cellular level."

Unlike some diehard Yankees fans, however, Earle at least has a little sympathy for Boston Red Sox fans, which are fans of the Yankees' biggest rival."I love Boston fans," Earle confesses. "For one thing, they have the greatest ballpark. It's the last of the 2 100-year old parks. I feel for 'em. I say that now, but in another month, it'll be, like, -- 'em."

Earle has come a long way from being six years old and listening to baseball on his transistor radio. Now he's hosting his own Air America Radio program.

"It's so strange because I'm used to being (the one) interviewed! It's largely a music show, so that makes it easy. It's called "The Revolution Starts...Now." It uses a guest DJ format. It's not all musicians. In fact, I haven't had a musician on yet. I had Bobby Muller, who's the president of the Vietnam Veterans of America Association, and I've got (director) John Sayles this week. They bring their records, you know, and they pick the songs that we play. And we talk about stuff. In the near future, we'll have Patti Smith, Janeane Garofalo. Janeane...I never thought to ask her because she's got a show on Air America. But she called us because she doesn't get to play music on her show. Then we'll have Ian MacKaye (of Fugazi) sometime in the future. It's fun."

Earle, who himself does a little acting now and again, recently watched his play, "Karla," performed in Nashville. Its story surrounds the first woman executed in Texas since the Civil War era. Earle - a writer-of-all-trades, if you will - is also working on a novel. But theatre is probably his favorite form of writing - of the variety that doesn't also go along with a beat and a tune, at least.

"I finished it, and by they time I'd finished it, we put it up in Nashville," Earle remembers. "And it was the hardest thing I'd done up to that point: writing in 3-D. And I swore I'd never do it again. I recently did a reading of 'Karla' here in New York - it's the first step toward trying to get 'Karla' produced here. I was really shocked - when listening to the play read by some really good actors - that I didn't want to rewrite anything. I was pretty proud of it. I suddenly wanted to start writing a play again."

"In fact, what I'm thinking now - once I finish this novel and at the end of this (next) tour - I'm probably going to buy a place here in New York. My child support and alimony ends this year, and believe me, it's enough money that I can afford an apartment in New York. I've always wanted to live here, at least part time. I think that's what I'll do is keep place in Tennessee, and buy a place here.""And my non-musical writing, after I finish this novel I'm working, will probably be...I've always loved theatre. It's something that sort of keeps itself pure because you're not going to get rich doing it. It's the most collaborative art form I've ever been involved in. I was never in a band, and it's probably a little too late for me to do that now just because I've kind of gotten used to doing that the same way, which is not very democratic when you get right down to it. I just think it (theatre writing) is good for me, and I really, really love it."

One has to wonder when (or if) Earle finds time for the little things in life such as, say, eating and sleeping.

"I only really do three things: I go to baseball games, I go to plays, and I fish - a little."

It's not as if Earle ever planned to have his fingerprints all over so many different artistic pursuits. But he's now starting to see the various ways many of his passions are interlinked.

"I never wanted to be anything but a singer and a songwriter," he says. "I didn't even really want to be a cowboy or a fireman. 'Warrior' (from the new album) would have never been written without my involvement in theatre. I would have never written a spoken word piece in iambic pentameter and put it on one of my records if I hadn't been involved in theatre the way I have for the last five or six years."

Earle is also adding to his acting resume, yet another career item on what must certainly be one of the longest and most varied work experience records in all of modern show business.

"I don't do a lot of it. I was on the first season of 'The Wire.' And I've done a few live theatre things. I performed a monologue in a thing called 'Vampire Monologues' that one of our theatre company members wrote with the theatre company in Nashville. And I did 'The Exonerated' here in New York and in Nashville. And I'm going to be on (the TV show) 'Deadwood.' I don't know how many episodes. I love that show. I think it's the best show on television. The writing's incredible. I lobbied pretty heavily to get on that because I just want to be around those writers and say those words."

In contrast to so many of the rich and famous celebrities he rubs shoulders with, Earle's overflowing plate leaves little room for Caribbean cruises, exotic beaches and the such.

"A vacation is where I go someplace and I only concentrate on one project," he only half-jokes.

The revolution may have just started, but this revolutionary artist has been going a long time now and shows no signs of either slowing down or stopping anytime soon.

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