Artists are routinely reminded to write what they know, and "hard core troubadour" Steve Earle has had the kind of experiences that allows him to tell stories of a hardscrabble life with an honest pen. Earle’s 1986 album, Guitar Town, brought him early success that exacerbated his substance abuse problems – and by the early 90s he had been imprisoned on gun and drug charges. After kicking a heroin addiction in jail, Earle was released in 1994 and began a very productive artistic period, releasing 2 acclaimed albums in an 18-month period. Aside from his day job as a successful musician, his resume also includes turns as an actor, playwright, activist, producer, teacher and satellite radio host. His highest profile gigs have been roles on a pair of incisive HBO shows; Earle played a recovering junkie on The Wire and currently plays a New Orleans busker on Treme. Earle’s recently published first novel, I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive, is filled with a kind of gritty authenticity that only someone who has been to hell and made it back can describe. Does struggle and strife lead to great art? Is there a better way? What are your favorite Steve Earle albums, songs or characters?
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