Singer-Songwriter Justin Townes Earle Dies at 38

    Justin Townes Earle, the Nashville singer-songwriter and son of country legend Steve Earle, has died at the age of 38. A representative confirmed the news last night on social media, writing: “It is with tremendous sadness that we inform you of the passing of our son, husband, father and friend Justin. So many of you have relied on his music and lyrics over the years and we hope that his music will continue to guide you on your journeys. You will be missed dearly Justin.” No cause of death has been disclosed.

    Named after his father’s friend Townes Van Zandt, Justin Townes Earle was born in South Nashville, Tennessee in 1982. His father having left his mother when he was just two years old, Justin grew up spending much of his childhood without seeing him. “One thing that needs to be made clear is that people always say, ‘What’s it like growing up with Steve Earle,’ and I don’t fucking know,” Justin said in a 2009 interview. “You have just as good of an idea of what it’s like growing up with Steve Earle as I do. I grew up with Carol-Ann Earle.”

    The singer-songwriter returned to live with his father after he got sober and immersed himself in Nashville’s music scene, playing in bands including The Distributors and The Swindlers. He briefly toured with his father’s band, The Dukes, but was ultimately fired due to his own struggles with drug addiction. His solo recording career began in 2007 with his debut EP Yuma; he released eight albums throughout his lifetime, his most recent one being last year’s The Saint Of Lost Causes. 

    The social media post also included these lyrics from Earle’s 2014 track, ‘Looking for a Place to Land’, from his record Absent Fathers: “I’ve crossed oceans / Fought freezing rain and blowing sand / I’ve crossed lines and roads and wondering rivers / Just looking for a place to land.”

    Below, read tributes to the late singer-songwriter from Jason Isbel, Samantha Crain, Steven King, and more.

    Konstantinos Pappis
    Konstantinos Pappis
    Konstantinos Pappis is a writer, journalist, and music editor at Our Culture. His work has also appeared in Pitchfork, GIGsoup, and other publications. He currently lives in Athens, Greece.

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