A Wild Ride Through Guitar Town

Steve Earle: Fearless Heart, Outlaw Poet takes a revealing look at the life and music of this influential artist, who is one of the most important singer-songwriters of our time. Through in-depth interviews with family members, producers, and musicians who have recorded with Earle, and with Steve himself, this second volume in Backbeat’s Lives in Music series traces a journey that began in southeast Texas, took the artist to Number One on the country-music charts with his influential debut album, Guitar Town, and found him nearly losing everything in the depths of drug addiction. Earle then mounted a remarkable comeback, ending four years of silence with an acoustic gem of an album, Train a-Comin’, followed by a succession of challenging projects done in collaboration with co-producer Ray Kennedy.

Along the way we see the growth of Steve’s political consciousness and witness the courage he shows in tackling controversial issues in song (including a full account of the furor that erupted over “John Walker’s Blues,” Earle’s attempt to understand the motives of so-called “American Taliban” John Walker Lindh), his longstanding campaign against the death penalty, and his recent appearance in support of Cindy Sheehan’s Iraq war protest outside the Texas ranch of President George W. Bush.

The narrative takes interesting side trips as well, examining the east Texas singer-songwriter scene of the early ’70s—where Earle befriended his future mentors Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt—and exploring the rise of country music’s New Traditionalist and Americana movements.

Rosanne Cash, Rodney Crowell, Peter Rowan, and Norman Blake are a few of the artists who offer their insights into Steve’s music. Ronnie McCoury offers an exclusive inside account of the sessions with Earle and the Del McCoury Band that produced the bluegrass monument The Mountain, and he explains the subsequent dispute with Earle that led the band to withdraw from a tour in support of the album. Steve Earle: Fearless Heart, Outlaw Poet is a wild ride that embraces both political and musical history as it attempts a flesh-and-blood portrait of an artist still busy being born.

David McGee, author of B.B. King: There Is Always One More Time and Go, Cat, Go: The Life and Times of Carl Perkins, The King of Rockabilly, is senior editor of Pro Sound News and country music editor for barnesandnoble.com. A veteran Rolling Stone contributor and former curator for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, he lives in New York, NY.

Backbeat Books publishes books for people who are passionate about music, whether as performers or avid fans. Based in San Francisco, Backbeat Books is an imprint of the Music Player Network, a division of CMP Media LLC.

For more information, visit www.backbeatbooks.com.