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Steve Earle On Staying Clean Through Personal Hardship

Mar 23rd 2014 | 3:54pm | Dan Condon
The Low Highway sees people's poet Steve Earle once again take the weight of the world on his shoulders and  somehow speak for an entire society with far more clarity than any one man ought to be able to.

“This record was more about what I saw out the window of the bus while travelling through North America,” Earle explains. “I was seeing something a lot closer to what Woody Guthrie saw; times that were as hard as what Woody saw.

“I've written a lot of songs about hard travelling and hard times, but I was doing that forensically, basically. But now things are tough out there, they really are. And that's what The Low Highway is.”

The opening title track speaks of abandoned houses and factories, growing lines of people waiting to be fed. Burinin' It Down is a scathing attack on the policies of the enormous Walmart chain of department stalls and Calico County is a fucked-up tale of broken homes, meth labs and a life in and out of jail.

On top of all this, Earle has his own problems. His battle with drug addiction has been well documented in the past and, on Pocket Full Of Rain, you can almost hear him toying with the idea of turning back to his old ways. He hasn't.

“I've been clean 19 years as of September 13th and I've had kind of a rough year, it was hard. I still go to meetings and call my sponsor and do all that stuff, that's how I stay clean. My little boy was diagnosed with autism, Allison [Moorer, Earle's wife] and I are separated and a lot of stuff has happened that I thought I'd never have to go through again. That song came along as I was processing all of that.”

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