Steve Earle: Fearless Heart, Outlaw Poet

Gift guide

Rock & Roll Books

Steve Earle: Fearless Heart, Outlaw Poet

by David McGee

Backbeat, 330 pp., $17.95 (paper)

2004's Hardcore Troubadour by Lauren St. John remains the definitive biography of Steve Earle, making the need for this document questionable. Nevertheless, Fearless Heart distinguishes itself by being less a detailed look at the Texan troubadour's life and more a behind-the-scenes account of the making of his albums. Separating Earle's roller-coaster life from his music is nearly impossible, so the multiple marriages, crazed drug use, and steadfast rebelliousness are touched upon but never overemphasized. What's left are talks with contemporaries like Rodney Crowell and Rosanne Cash, who offer enlightened insight into Earle's first days in Nashville and his influence after his initial success. McGee precedes discussions with producers Tony Brown and Richard Bennett with some of their own personal histories; all the more fascinating because Brown worked with Elvis Presley and Bennett with Neil Diamond. Peter Rowan reveals some of the drama associated with Earle's comeback album, Train a Comin', and Ronnie McCoury exposes his side of the truth on why the Del McCoury Band pulled out of The Mountain tour. What's missing is Earle's perspective. According to McGee, the songwriter at first agreed to cooperate with the project, then quit responding to interview requests. Unfortunately, this led to a major player like Ray Kennedy, who produced albums with Earle as the Twang Trust, having minor input and the current band of Dukes being nowhere to be found. Although incomplete, McGee has unearthed some valuable information, combined with a superb discography and definitive session information.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 36 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Music Reviews
Texas Platters
Kevin Welch
Dust Devil (Record Review)

Doug Freeman, Dec. 14, 2018

Texas Platters
Sheverb
Chapter One (Record Review)

Doug Freeman, Dec. 14, 2018

More by Jim Caligiuri
Carrie Elkin’s Life-and-Death Folk
Carrie Elkin’s Life-and-Death Folk
Her father's death and daughter's birth upped the stakes of the singer's finest work

April 14, 2017

SXSW Music Live: Richard Barone Presents Greenwich Village in the Sixties
SXSW Music Live: Richard Barone Presents Greenwich Village in the Sixties
Soft Boys, Youngbloods, Moby Grape, Brian Jones’ grandson, etc.

March 18, 2017

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle