Steve Earle to Record Tribute Album to His Son, Justin Townes Earle
While they both were alive, Steve Earle and his son Justin Townes Earle strived to keep their careers and identities separate, only occasionally meeting up for any musical purposes. Since Justin died in August, however, there’s been no need for his father to stand on any such formality. His record label announced Wednesday that Steve Earle will be recording an album of his songs, to come out in January 2021.
Said the statement from New West Records, “Steve Earle & the Dukes announced today that they will be recording an album of songs written by Justin Townes Earle with 100% of artist advances and royalties going to a trust for Justin’s daughter, Etta St. James Earle. It is expected that the album will be recorded in October and released in January, 2021, around the time of what would have been Justin’s 39th birthday. More details to be announced shortly.”
Justin Townes Earle’s death was announced August 23. Two days later, Nashville police said they had discovered his body in his apartment on the day the death was announced after getting a welfare-check request from a friend who hadn’t seen Earle for days. Although the autopsy was not completed, police said the cause of death was most likely an overdose.
Earle has not spoken up on his son’s death beyond posting a tweet with the years of his birth and death, accompanying a vintage photo of a carefree moment that had a youthful Justin spread across his lap as both laughed.
The younger Earle was a favorite of critics and audiences alike, picking up accolades that had little to do with any family associations, though how the songwriting talent ran in the family fascinated fans of both artists. Justin’s most recent album, “The Saint of Lost Causes,” had picked up the singer’s usual strong reviews upon coming out on New West in May 2020, and he had continued to tour behind it up to the point that the pandemic shut down concerts.
Speaking about the fame that he shared with his father, Earle talked about arriving at a balance in his attitude. “I really do appreciate (the connection),” he told The Boot. “There are a lot of sons and daughters out there who want nothing to do with their parents. Get over that s—. You think you’d be doing what you’re doing with no influence from your mother or father? But even though it was tough, nobody will ever say that I rode my daddy’s coattails. My daddy can’t write like me, he can’t play guitar like me. I can’t write like him, and I don’t want to play guitar like him. I think we’ve done five shows together in 13 years since I started making records. We separated it hard from the beginning, because he wanted me to stand on my own.”
Steve Earle’s 20th album, “Ghosts of West Virginia,” a song collection themed around mining and economic devastation, was released in May.