Steve Earle Honors Late Son Justin Townes Earle With Covers Album

Steve and Justin Townes Earle. Photo: Robin Marchant/Getty Images

Justin Townes Earle, the late son of Steve Earle, would’ve been 39 today, January 4. To mark the occasion, Steve Earle and his band the Dukes released ten covers of songs by his son, also a singer-songwriter. J.T., the 20th album by outlaw country icon Steve, draws from across Justin’s eight-album career as an acclaimed Americana performer. Steve’s interpretations of his son’s songs sound rougher and less polished, thanks to their stylistic differences, but still faithful to the originals. The album also ends with an original song by Steve, called “Last Words.” “Last thing I said was, ‘I love you,’” he sings, “And your last words to me were, ‘I love you, too.’” Steve spoke about that phone call in a recent New York Times profile, telling the paper he spoke to his son in late August about helping with his recovery from drug addiction. “I said, ‘Do not make me bury you,’” Steve told the Times. “And he said, ‘I won’t.’” Justin died later that night due to an accidental drug overdose; he’d spoken about addiction throughout his career, as had his father. Steve said he wrote “Last Words” days after Justin’s death, and called it “maybe the only song I’ve ever written in my life that every single word in it is true.” Proceeds from J.T. will go toward a trust for Justin’s three-year-old daughter Etta St. James Earle, whom he left behind, along with his widow Jenn Earle.

Steve Earle Honors Late Son Justin Townes With Covers Album