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Steve Earle Writing 'The Book I Swore I'd Never Write'

Aug 17th 2012 | 2:19pm | Scott Fitzsimons
Legendary country singer songwriter Steve Earle, who will deliver the keynote speech at this year's BIGSOUND, has revealed to theMusic.com.au's Steve Bell that he is penning his memoirs.

“It's the book I swore I would never write – I'm writing a memoir," he said in a to-be-published article. "I made a deal for two books, a memoir and a novel. They made me an offer I couldn't understand [laughs]."

He continued, “It's not an autobiography, it's a literary memoir, a little more abstract. It's not like, 'I was born a poor black child...' and it doesn't try and encompass every minute of my life – I think it's about something besides me. It's really about heroes and mentors good and bad, so obviously the first part is about [renowned songwriter and Earle's mentor] Townes [Van Zandt], before I started making records – the record-making aspect is in other books about me I understand, I've never read any of them.

"The second part is about the period of time that everybody thinks they know about but don't, which is the three-and-a-half or four years just before I sorta slipped off the edge of the earth and the period when I was gone. And the third part of it is basically about recovery – I think it's going to end long before the present day, we'll see.”

In 2001 Earle published a collection of short stories called Doghouse Roses, while his first novel I'll Never Get Out Of This World Alive was published last year.

His visit to Brisbane for the annual music conference is going to be something of a whirlwind visit for the iconic entertainer.

“It's going to be kinda strange, because I'm literally coming across to Queensland for something like 36 hours, and that's it – then I have to turn around and get back on the plane and head home to the States, because my last solo run for the year starts 48 hours after I get back!” he said.

“I'm going to fly over, do the conference, get on the plane and fly back, and then I have about 24 hours before I have to get on the bus and go do the first show. It's one of those things – my feet will be really big, but that should be okay. I'm working on a book, so part of the time I'm not sleeping I'm going to write, so it'll be fine.”

Last year's keynote speaker Alan McGee courted controversy by saying he laughed when a Sony DADC warehouse, which was home a lot of indie labels' stock, burnt to the ground during the London Riots. McGee was actively trying to get himself into the tabloids back in the UK, whereas Earle will be treading more carefully.

"I've done panels at conferences before, and I've done more general stuff as well like being interviewed in front of a college audience or something, but when it's music industry specific – I've done a keynote at South By Southwest, I've done a few of them – then I have to be careful not to piss people off, because these aren't political issues to me. Political issues to me are when people are dying – or in danger of dying – but it is what I do for a living, and it's changed drastically.

“Like I don't know what to tell [son and fellow musician] Justin [Townes Earle], because he's operating in a music business completely different to the one that I started in – I come from the '80s, I come from where whoever dies with the highest un-recouped figure wins, and that's not true anymore. People like me who are singer-songwriters in the roots field, we existed in the fringes, we always did – we liked to fool ourselves into thinking that we were important in the scheme of things, but we really weren't – but there was just so much fucking money that [industry] people could afford to spend money on music that they actually liked, and we benefited from it. Now you're going to have to figure out how to go and do all those things for yourself."

BIGSOUND and BIGSOUND Live will run from Wednesday 12 to Friday 14 September.

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