Steve Earle: Fearless Heart, Outlaw Poet
As much as I am drawn to Steve Earles music and re-spect the work hes done this last decade to rebuild himself, its hard to guess why there need be a second biography on the heels of Lauren St Johns 2003 Hardcore Troubadour.
Thing is, Earle is a difficult, complex and polarizing character, and hes interesting to write and think about. To talk with; to listen to. But none of us not even the artist himself is going to get him right on the printed page, and if we did, nobody would believe it.
David McGees book focuses on his recorded work, and not the sideshows. Which means some tedious (and not altogether compelling) song-by-song analysis. He is handicapped by Earles withdrawal from the project, reduced to borrowing quotations from St John, to leaning heavily on the accounts of Earles family, and to vamping through some curious digressions.
The digressions principally an attempt to make sense of the creative world from which Earle emerged are the best part.