Justin Townes Earle sings about the things beyond our control

Justin Townes Earle at The Current
Justin Townes Earle at The Current (Nate Ryan | MPR)
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Justin Townes Earle performs in The Current studio (full session + interview)
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  • Justin Townes Earle performs in The Current studio (full session + interview) 18:17
  • Justin Townes Earle - Champagne Corolla (Live on The Current) 03:18
  • Justin Townes Earle - Maybe a Moment (Live on The Current) 02:54
  • Justin Townes Earle - Gold Watch and Chain (Carter Family cover) (Live on The Current) 03:07

On his new album, Kids in the Street, Justin Townes Earle includes a cover of Paul Simon's "Graceland"; the theme of the song resonated with Earle. "You might actually have to go somewhere to seek out what you need," he says. "It's not just going to fall into your lap. You might have to go."

And go Earle did. Rather than looking at the Nashville where he grew up as a place to record the album, Earle decamped to Omaha, Neb., where he worked with producer Mike. It was a new experience for Earle, but he embraced it. "It was definitely still a bit nerve-wracking," Earle says. "But I had to walk away and let Mike do things the way he does things. You've just got to have faith."

Just before the album's release, Justin Townes Earle was in Minneapolis for a show at First Avenue. Earlier in the day, he stopped at The Current for a session hosted by Bill DeVille.

Although Earle worked in a different way on the new album, he stuck with a blues sound he's long appreciated. "You know what kind of player you are when you pick up a guitar and you start playing," Earle says. "What do you automatically go to? Ever since I was a kid, I go into E position and go [sings standard blues riff] if I'm just messing around with a guitar. So the sounds of the blues and Memphis, Tennessee, infected me music-wise a long, long time ago and haven't made their way out."

Earle himself has made his way out of Tennessee, noting that the gentrification of the Nashville of his youth has altered the city indelibly. "They came in and cleared out my neighborhood," Earle says. "They like to call it 12 South now, but it was called Sevier Park-Sunnyside neighborhood when I was a kid. It was a very racially mixed neighborhood, it was a very poor neighborhood. Now it's million-dollar homes and nothing but lilywhite children running around those damn streets and it don't look right. It ain't the neighborhood I grew up in."

It's a subject Earle, who now lives in Portland, Ore., explores on Kids in the Street. "Nashville did away with my home," Earle says. "It's definitely not my home anymore, other than the fact that my mom's there."

Use the audio player above to listen to the complete in-studio session with Justin Townes Earle.

Songs Performed


"Champagne Corolla"
"Maybe a Moment"
"Gold Watch and Chain" (Carter Family cover)
The first two songs are from Justin Townes Earle's album, Kids in the Street, released May 26, 2017, on New West Records.

Hosted by Bill DeVille
Produced by Derrick Stevens
Engineered by Michael DeMark and Matt Lentz
Visuals by Nate Ryan
Web feature by Luke Taylor

Resources


Justin Townes Earle - official site

Related Stories

  • Justin Townes Earle performs live in The Current studio (2014) In town to play at First Avenue in Minneapolis, Townes Earle stopped in to The Current for a warm and very open conversation with Mary Lucia.
  • The Current's Guitar Collection: The Loar By strange coincidence, a guitar make that we hadn't covered before was mentioned by two different guitar players within one week: Anthony LaMarca of The War on Drugs and singer-songwriter Justin Townes Earle both describe their acoustic guitars built by San Francisco-based The Loar.
  • Justin Townes Earle performs in The Current studios (2012) Justin Townes Earle shouldn't be overshadowed by his famous father Steve Earle. The two may have similar styles, but Justin modernizes what his dad began popularizing in the late '90s. His newest record "Nothing's Gonna Change The Way You Feel About Me Now" has garnered considerable accolades in the Americana scene, and there's a chance for you to win a copy of that CD from The Current this week.
  • Justin Townes Earle performs in The Current studios (2011) Singer-songwriter Justin Townes Earle--son of Steve Earle, stepson of Alison Moorer, named after Townes van Zandt--might as well be alt-country royalty.

19 Photos

  • Justin Townes Earle at The Current
    Justin Townes Earle at The Current (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Justin Townes Earle at The Current
    Justin Townes Earle at The Current (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Justin Townes Earle at The Current
    Justin Townes Earle at The Current (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Justin Townes Earle at The Current
    Justin Townes Earle at The Current (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Justin Townes Earle at The Current
    Justin Townes Earle at The Current (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Justin Townes Earle at The Current
    Justin Townes Earle at The Current (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Justin Townes Earle at The Current
    Justin Townes Earle at The Current (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Justin Townes Earle at The Current
    Justin Townes Earle at The Current (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Justin Townes Earle at The Current
    Justin Townes Earle at The Current (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Justin Townes Earle at The Current
    Justin Townes Earle at The Current (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Justin Townes Earle at The Current
    Justin Townes Earle at The Current (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Justin Townes Earle at The Current
    Justin Townes Earle at The Current (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Justin Townes Earle at The Current
    Justin Townes Earle at The Current (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Justin Townes Earle at The Current
    Justin Townes Earle at The Current (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Justin Townes Earle at The Current
    Justin Townes Earle at The Current (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Justin Townes Earle at The Current
    Justin Townes Earle at The Current (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Justin Townes Earle at The Current
    Justin Townes Earle at The Current (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Justin Townes Earle at The Current
    Justin Townes Earle at The Current (Nate Ryan | MPR)
  • Justin Townes Earle at The Current
    Justin Townes Earle at The Current (Nate Ryan | MPR)

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