Some people say good things come in threes. Others say it’s bad things. For Steve Earle, it works both ways.
The Texas roots-rocker’s latest album Jerry Jeff is a posthumous tribute to singer-songwriter, mentor and longtime friend Jerry Jeff Walker. It follows similar albums devoted to the work of Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt, the two other artists who were a major influence on the young Earle (for better and worse). Despite being inspired by loss, these albums — along with the devastating J.T., his 2021 tribute to his late son Justin Townes — have been rightly praised as some of the finest and most moving work of Earle’s career. Which says a lot about the man behind Copperhead Road, Guitar Town, The Revolution Starts Now, Ghosts Of West Virginia and other musical landmarks. With Jerry Jeff in stores, the dependably forthright Earle — who I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing multiple times over the decades — Zoomed in to talk about Walker, making a Broadway musical of Tender Mercies, what he has in common with Marianne Faithfull (it’s not what you think) and which Texas troubadour he just might honour next.