Steve Earle Previews Tribute to Son Justin Townes Earle With 'Harlem River Blues'

Steve Earle has announced details for his album of songs dedicated to his late son, the singer-songwriter Justin Townes Earle, who died this past August at the age of 38.

Following in the traditions of tribute albums Earle has recorded to honor close friends like his son’s namesake, Townes Van Zandt, with 2009’s Townes, and Guy Clark with 2019’s Guy, Earle will release J.T. on January 4th — what would have been his son’s 39th birthday.

“The record is called J.T. because Justin was never called anything else until he was nearly grown,” Earle said in a statement. “Well, when he was little, I called him Cowboy. For better or worse, right or wrong, I loved Justin Townes Earle more than anything else on this earth. 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.”

Before it concludes with the original song “Last Words,” which Earle wrote for his son, J.T. will include 10 versions of Justin Townes Earle’s songs spanning his entire discography, from the 2007 acoustic EP Yuma to his final album, 2019’s The Saint of Lost Causes.

The first glimpse of J.T., which was recorded this fall with Earle’s longtime backing band, the Dukes, is “Harlem River Blues,” the up-tempo meditation on mortality title track to Justin Townes Earle’s 2010 opus. “If you see me walking up the FDR drive just singing and clapping my hands,” Earle sings, “Tell my mama I loved her, tell my daddy I tried, give my money to my baby to spend.”

Steve Earle will be donating 100% of the proceeds of J.T. to a trust to Justin and Jenn Marie Earle’s daughter, Etta St. James Earle.

Steve Earle – J.T. track list:

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