Steve Earle Speaks Truth - Rolling Stone
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Steve Earle Speaks Truth

Singer-songwriter fighting Bush, writing next album

The Tell Us the Truth Tour launches tonight in Madison, Wisconsin,
during, appropriately enough, the National Conference on Media
Reform. The tour was hatched by Steve Earle, Billy Bragg and Tom
Morello — and subsequently snowballed to include R.E.M.’s Mike
Mills, Jill Sobule, Lester Chambers, Boots Riley and others at
select dates during its run — with the purpose of addressing the
Bush administration and the media’s coverage of its doings, with
the 2004 presidential election just a year away. In addition to
spoken word and music, the tour also seeks to register fans to vote
and inform them about issues like free trade and the war in Iraq.

“My concern is the way corporate media has affected the news
that we receive and the quality of information that we receive,”
says Earle, who joins the tour on November 15th. “We’ve got a
really heavily slanted playing field right now, and it will
continue to tilt dangerously to starboard if this administration
stays in power. The problem is that we went to sleep. The
tour is to instill in people the sense that they can do something
about this.”

Though Earle has campaigned vigorously against the death penalty
for years, he says the war in Iraq is currently taking up his
activism time. “Right now the most important thing is this election
coming up, and stopping this war,” he says. “I don’t think you can
do one without the other. As long as this regime is in power, the
war is not gonna stop. The one accomplishment of this
administration so far besides this huge deficit is getting us into
this war. And lying to get us into it. And this is an emergency,
this election. This guy’s gotta go. And I believe it can be
accomplished.”

After recording politically oriented songs on otherwise pop,
rock and country records in the past, Earle released his most
politically minded record, Jerusalem, last year. He says
he’s already written two new songs, “and none of them are chick
songs so far.” Earle plans to go into the studio in April and
record another record, which would be released before the
election.”

In the meantime, Earle has Tell Us the Truth, along with some
promotional duty for Just an American Boy, a documentary
film directed by Amos Poe about Earle’s Jerusalem tour and
a companion two-CD live album of the same name. The film will open
in New York City and Nashville tonight, with Earle attending the
opening in the latter city. “I can’t make any judgement about that
film,” he says. “It’s just too much me up there for too long for me
to be really comfortable with it and objective about it.” As for
the live album, it’s Earle’s first since Shut Up and Die Like
an Aviator
more than a decade ago. Though Earle kicked the
much-publicized dope habit that dogged him in the days of
Aviator, the American Boy album isn’t lacking for
energy, with some of the outrage found on the songs of
Jerusalem permeating the older material.

Tell Us the Truth Tour dates:

11/7-8: Madison, WI, National Conference on Media Reform
11/10: Chicago, Park West
11/11: Royal Oak, MI, Royal Oak Music Theater
11/12: Indianapolis, The Vogue
11/14: Nashville, Belcourt Theater
11/15: Asheville, NC, The Orange Peel
11/16: Atlanta, Variety Playhouse
11/17: Tampa, FL, Tampa Theater
11/19: Miami, People’s Gala for Global Justice
11/21: Glenside, PA, Keswick Theater
11/22: New York, Webster Hall
11/23: Boston, Berklee Performance Center
11/24: Washington, DC, 9:30 Club

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