J.T. takes its name from Justin Townes Earle’s childhood nickname, his father explains in a press release. “Justin was never called anything else until he was nearly grown,” Steve Earle shares (adding, however, that he did call his son “Cowboy” when he was little).
“For better or worse, right or wrong, I loved Justin Townes Earle more than anything else on this earth,” Steve Earle continues. “That being said, I made this record, like every other record I’ve ever made … for me. It was the only way I knew to say goodbye.”
The 11-track album features 10 of the younger Earle’s songs and closes with “Last Words,” which Steve Earle wrote for his son. Among its cuts is Justin Townes Earle’s “Harlem River Blues,” the title track of his 2010 album, which won Song of the Year at the 2011 Americana Honors & Awards. Hear Steve Earle’s version below:
J.T. is due out digitally on Jan. 4 — what would have been the younger Earle’s 39th birthday — via New West Records, with CD and vinyl versions coming on March 19. It is available to pre-save and for pre-order now, and full album details are below. Per the press release announcing the album, 100 percent of the artist advances and royalties from J.T. are being donated to a trust for Justin Townes Earle’s 3-year-old daughter, Etta St. James Earle.
Justin Townes Earle died on Aug. 20, likely died of a drug overdose, according to Nashville police, who discovered the singer-songwriter’s body at his apartment in West Nashville on Aug. 23 while carrying out a requested welfare check. Like his father, Earle struggled with both drugs and alcohol throughout his life. After he first got sober, he relapsed twice; in recent years, however, he was keeping sober with the help of marijuana, he told fellow musician Chris Shiflett on Shiflett’s podcast in 2017.
Earle married his wife, Jenn Marie, in 2013. Etta is their only child.
Steve Earle & the Dukes, J.T. Tracklist:
1. “I Don’t Care”
2. “Ain’t Glad I’m Leaving”
4. “Far Away in Another Town”
5. “They Killed John Henry”
6. “Turn Out My Lights”
7. “Lone Pine Hill”
8. “Champagne Corolla”
9. “The Saint of Lost Causes”
10. “Harlem River Blues”
11. “Last Words”
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