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Why Steve Earle Will Never Move Back To Texas

Ronald Ali-Khan

Texas music legend Steve Earle was raised in San Antonio but doesn’t want to live in Texas again.

On His New Blues Album, "Terraplane":
“It’s a component, it’s one of the components, the major components of rock and roll and folk music and everything that I do. You know, I’m going through a divorce so there was that component – it was a good time to write blues songs and I had a guitar player that can play this stuff – especially the electric stuff was more intimidating for me because the folkier, acoustic stuff I’ve been doing for a long time but, you know, there is no Los Angeles shuffle. There is no New York shuffle – there’s only a Chicago shuffle and Texas shuffle. And I knew Stevie Ray Vaughan and I know Jimmy Vaughan and the bar is really high if you come from where I come from and play some of the festivals I play and some of the places I play if you decide you’re going to make a blues fair on purpose.”

On Why He Doesn’t Ever Want to Live in Texas Again:

“No way, and I hope that doesn’t hurt anybody's feelings. I’ll always be a Texan, I’ll always be proud of that. I landed at the airport yesterday and I walked down headed for the rent cars and I looked up at that statue of Barbara Jordan – that’s the Texas that I left in 1974. And I’m not sure its that anymore. I need to walk out my front door and see a mixed-race, same-sex couple holding hands and not being afraid to do it to feel safe at this point in my life. I need to be some place where the cultures full of _. The reason Texas is so rich in singer-songwriters is because the culture is really rich here. So there is something going on there is no doubt about it but there’s some things in our DNA that I guess allowed this to happen eventually. But there had never been a Republican Governor in Texas when I left here – nobody could even imagine there ever being one.”

On Why He’ll Always be Steve Earle:

“I’m still going to be Steve Earle just because I live, I’m going to go there and I’m going to do what I do and I’m gonna be at the center of the universe doing it instead of being here and this was a different place I watched. I went from getting my a** kicked constantly just because I had long hair and cowboy boots to standing in a cow pasture with the same guys that used to kick my a** and listening to Willie Nelson. So this was hated for being Southern California with way better food as far as I knew. So I just didn’t, you know, and then something happened and there were friends of mine that stayed that blamed it on me but I reached that point in my life where I no longer think I’m anywhere near that powerful.”

This story was prepared with assistance by Victoria Garcia. 

David D. Brown is executive producer and host of the award-winning cultural journalism program Texas Music Matters at NPR affiliate KUT-FM in Austin. He is former anchor of the award-winning public radio business program Marketplace, and a veteran public radio journalist. He has reported national and international affairs for Monitor Radio from bases in Atlanta, Boston, London, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C.