The First Time: Justin Townes Earle – Rolling Stone
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The First Time: Justin Townes Earle

Nashville singer-songwriter talks performing with his dad, getting pranked onstage

Justin Townes Earle released his latest album, The Saint of Lost Causes, earlier this month, the follow-up to 2017’s Kids in the Street. The Nashville songwriter and son of country legend Steve Earle sat down with Rolling Stone to discuss some of his earliest musical memories, like the first time performing with his dad when he was 17 for a Thanksgiving food drive.

“Me and my dad played a few Doc Watson songs,” he explains. “We’re Earles, we’re arrogant, and we always feel good about what we do, but it was intimidating. I’ll tell you, the second time we played together, I had to play with him and Guy Clark at MerleFest, in front of Doc Watson. It scared the shit out of me.” Earle then tells a story of Clark pranking him onstage.

Earle also goes into why his first name wasn’t Townes (after Townes Van Zandt), his first experience buying an album and the first songs he can remember that made him cry. “‘Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright’ by Bob Dylan was one of the first songs I remember crying over….I’m a huge Billie Holiday fan. Everything she sings makes me wanna cry.”

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