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Rolling Stone Live: Justin Townes Earle Channels His Dark Past in New Songs

The son of Steve Earle sings songs inspired by his time as a homeless drug addict

January 19, 2011 2:00 PM ET

 

Justin Townes Earle, the son of legendary country singer Steve Earle, recently came by the Rolling Stone office to play a few songs and talk about his new record Harlem River Blues. Earle is incredibly candid in this interview, citing Nirvana's MTV Unplugged in New York album as his gateway to discovering Leadbelly and classic blues, and explaining how his father's advice to write only about what he knows led him to pen songs about a rough period in his early 20s when he was a homeless drug addict and hustler on the streets of Nashville.

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Song Stories

“Vans”

The Pack | 2006

Berkeley, California rappers the Pack made their footwear choice clear in 2006 with the song "Vans." The track caught the attention of Too $hort, who signed them to his imprint. MTV refused to play the video for the song, though, claiming it was essentially a commercial for the product. Rapper Lil' B disagreed. "I didn’t know nobody [at] Vans," he said. "I was just a rapper who wore Vans." Even without MTV's support, Lil' B recognized the impact of the track. "God blessed me with such a revolutionary song… People around my age know who really started a lot of the dressing people are into now."

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