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- Posted on Mar 22nd 2011 4:30PM by Spinner
New West Records
Singer-songwriter Steve Earle knows addiction all too well. "I have been sober 16 years and I've been sober a lot longer than I was publicly f---ed up," he told the Boot in an exclusive Q&A, in which he also talks about the struggles of his son, Justin Townes Earle. "He inherited the disease [addiction] from me. I inherited it from my family. I'm not the first addict in my family."
On top of that, Earle discussed the importance of being a father, his son's entrance into rehab and his Hank Williams-inspired new novel, 'I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive.' Check out an excerpt from the interview below and read in its entirety over at the Boot.
When did you start writing the novel?
The model started a little over a year after I published a collection of short fiction ['Doghouse Roses'] in 2001. Within a year of that, I started working on this novel. It was always going to be called 'I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive.' The original idea came from my fascination with the stories [which alleged that] a doctor [named Toby Marshall] was traveling with Hank Williams when he died. The book was on the back burner when I was making a couple of other records, writing a play and doing a lot of other stuff.
What's it like to have a very young son and two other sons who are adults?
It is definitely different. I'm a different father than I was with the older boys. Years ago, I wrote a song ['The Week of Living Dangerously'] where this guy -- and I was a father at the time and loved my kids -- but I wrote a song where the guy runs away from home and the first thing he does in the first verse is throw the car seat in the dumpster. He just doesn't go home one day. I am a lot less in that mindset than I was when I was younger. I'm going to go through some stuff with [my sons Justin Townes Earle, who is newly sober after a high-profile arrest last year] and Ian. They know this is different than when they were growing up. I was around a lot when Justin was a teen. By the time 'Guitar Town' came out [in 1986], he was 3 and I was kind of gone after that. Ian doesn't even remember me much until he was 5 or 6. His mother and I split up, and she went through a period where she wouldn't even let me see him.
How's Justin doing?
He's fine. He's on tour right now halfway between here and the west coast. I wish he could come see his brother more but he is doing what I was doing -- he has a record out and things are going pretty well and he's touring. That's what he should be doing.
We've read people say, and certainly Justin say, how terrific it is that you got him into rehab.
It's best not to talk about that. The way I stay sober, I don't mind saying, is a 12-step program. Justin's program is his program. I didn't get into rehab, and I can't get Justin into rehab. Justin had to get himself into the program. It's just one of those things that it's the only way that works. I have been sober 16 years and I've been sober a lot longer than I was publicly f---ed up. 'Guitar Town' came out in 1986 and by late 1991, I was homeless. That is literally less than five years. I didn't make a record for four years. I started making records in 1994 and actually releasing them in 1995. I have been sober ever since. I've made a lot more records and played a lot more shows, and wrote a lot more songs than I ever did when I was a practicing addict. And we're still talking about it. Justin has his own thing he has to go through. He's fine right now.