Steve Earle leaves comfort zone – October 2007
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Steve Earle leaves comfort zone  Print

By Jeffrey B. Remz, October 2007

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"I've always been sentimental. I just wasn't going to get soft."

Earle said what makes his love songs "connect with people are our similarities, not our differences. I'm always talking about chick songs, but chicks do dig them."

"Doing what I do, there's a lot of self consciousness I had to overcome a long time ago," says Earle, referring to writing about personal topics. "To do this well - at the level I do it where it really is art - it requires that you are a little forthcoming and you are forthcoming emotionally on behalf of some people in your audience that can't do it, for some reason are not equipped to do it. What my audience and I find out about each other is that our experiences at the core are the same."

"That's what art's for. Art is not an elective. We're the only the place in the world that does music and theatre and arts like that."

"We call them electives in school...The truth is they're sustenance. They're not electives...We make and consume art and both the making and the consumption of that art is necessary. It's a requirement just like food, just like air. It's something we have to have. It makes us more human than anything else. It's our common experience."

Married life is different for Earle this time around because he is married to a fellow performer. Moorer has her own recording career going and is best known for her song "A Soft Place to Fall" from the Robert Redford movie "The Horse Whisperer."

Moorer also did vocals on "Picture" with Kid Rock, which was released as a CD single. The only problem was Sheryl Crow also was involved in the project and her version with Kid Rock was the one that captured all of the airplay.

"We both had to learn to live with half of the space in the house taken up by another artist and their work," says Earle of he and Moorer. "Neither of us have done it before. We did it in New York City where we were living with a lot less space than we were used to. It was interesting at times. It was really good for me. Both of us lived with other people that weren't doing what we do. We had a tendency to forget that anyone else was making any art" (Moorer's first husband was songwriter Butch Primm).

Moorer and Earle have toured together pre- and post-marriage. "She started out touring as an opening act and as a member of the band for part of my show. Since then, what we've done for the most part is just the two of us traveling...We've done a lot of festivals in this three years. There hasn't been any full-time touring schedule, but I have to pay the rent."

"We've fallen into a rhythm with it. We did doing it. We travel on a bus and we usually stay in the bus...when we stay in North America. We take our dogs and a couple of bicycles. If we're headed towards the mountains, I take a couple of fly rods. We try to live as high a quality of lifestyle out there as we can."

Earle says touring together is "not about marketing. That's about staying married. We've both had the other result. As long as have been together, that's been about three years, we're been constantly tweaking our release schedules so we can tour together from now on."

Looking ahead, Earle expects to tour with Moorer in Europe and the U.S. in January when her new disc is about to drop. A DJ will join them onstage.

"We're going to start in Europe without the band," says Earle. Instead of a crew of 15, "more stuff" and resulting higher costs, "this time we're traveling lighter. It's one bus instead of two and a smaller crew, just the three of us on stage. We're going to go to Europe for a month, do a lot of Western Europe in January, and the U.S. will start the last week of February."

In the meantime, Earle is doing press and television. Now that may be considered standard for an artist, but Earle says he effectively was given the boot from TV for two years following his "John Walker's Blues" song about Walker, the so-called American Taliban citizen convicted of treason for aiding the Taliban.

"Nobody said anything," says Earle of his ban. "It's not been talked about, but I never failed to book most of the national television (shows) you think about for music, and then all of a sudden I didn't get any of it. I absolutely knew it was a possibility, and I think it was worth it. I'm glad to be able to be back and able to do it...If I feel like it's necessary (to write political songs again), then I will, but right now, this record, I'm probably not going to get on Lou Dobbs' show."

"I don't have any choice. I may occasionally alienate someone. The people that have bought every record that I've put out. I'm pretty proud of my fans. They're pretty smart. They'd be disappointed if I started worrying too much if I was going to get on television or not."

While the music marketplace is a difficult one for all, Earle doesn't seem worried about his own fate.

"I never made more than 3 grand in my life until I was 31. I hung in there. If you income average it out, I'm probably still upper middle class at best, but I'm totally okay with it. I've made a really good living, and I've done things the way I want to do it.

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