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Steve Earle

Steve Earle is a singer-songwriter who has been writing and performing politically charged songs for over 30 years. He is an anti-death penalty activist and was awarded the Shining Star of Abolition Award in 2010. Steve is also an outspoken anti-war activist and once caused controversy with a song about John Walker Lindh, the US-born Taliban fighter.



FE: Does art have a part to play in politics?


SE: Yeah. I mean it does for me. Both art and politics are forms of communication between human beings; art being an artist or artists dialogue with an audience and politics being a method for reaching a group conscience within a community. Making any kind of art is a pretty pure political statement in and of itself, especially in this country, where we've never really embraced the arts as human necessity rather than an "elective".


FE: How do you deal with the backlash that comes your way as a result of your outspokenness?


SE: I just try to do whatever I do with my eyes wide open in the first place. I knew when I wrote John Walker's Blues the shit was gonna hit the fan and it did. I told Elvis Costello and Bobby Muller who ran the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation back then I was gonna do it at breakfast one morning. They're both old friends. Both told me I was crazy. I alienated some of my audience in this country back then, and some of those folks haven't come back and it's probably cost me some money. But I expected it and I still make a good living and I feel like I said something no one else was going to say so it was worth it.


FE: Why is it, do you think, that in music and media dissent is less accepted and discussed than it was in the 60’s and 70’s?


SE: Some of that I'm sure is because the music business is shrinking so much anyway and everyone is so uncertain about the future of the entire industry that they're simply afraid to rock an already leaky boat.


FE: What are you working on these days, artistically?


SE: A memoir, songs for a blues record with the Dukes and music for a play by Richard Maxwell at SoHo Rep here in the city, which i've just found out i'm going to be acting in as well.


FE: Do you have a particular political concern at the moment, or is there a particular cause you’re involved in?


SE: The death penalty is still a big one. Funding for Autism research as my youngest son is on the spectrum and Hydrofracking in the Catskills is my pet local cause.


FE: A year ago, you were in Jerusalem producing David Broza’s latest record. As you know, Festive Evolution is taking a group of artists to Jerusalem in the spring of 2015, to collect stories that will help us understand the present conflict there. Any words of wisdom for those heading to that part of the world?


SE: Just keep your eyes and your ears and your heart open at all times and be very careful when and where you open your mouth.


FE: What are you wearing?


SE: Phoenix feathers


I'm always looking for new and exciting opportunities. Let's connect.


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