Steve Earle on learning to love Taylor Swift

You’ve been doing this for so long, but are there still present-day influences that you’re taking from it all?

I get set in my ways and I don’t listen to stuff. When I do listen to music at home, I tend to listen to jazz and stuff that doesn’t have lyrics. But then I’ll go through periods when I’ll immerse myself again. I see more theater than I do anything else. I probably see 20 plays and musicals a year. Or more. I’m about live theater and Major League Baseball, for the most part. I’ve listened to the new Taylor Swift record a lot.


It’s a really good record! She’s a real songwriter. And I didn’t know. It wasn’t like I avoided it; I don’t stay all that plugged in.

The last time I was nominated for a Grammy, I guess it was three years ago—when I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive was out. I went to the ceremony and I didn’t win; the Civil Wars kicked my ass. But I stayed for the show, and Taylor opened it. I had never seen her; I’d just heard the odd snippet of a song here and there. I had friends that’d worked with her back in Nashville, and I knew there had to be something to it. But I’d gone back to check out the big thing that happened six months ago or a year ago that I missed and been disappointed before. Garth Brooks was an example. I didn’t quite get that—I didn’t understand what the big deal was.

But I saw Taylor do “Mean” that night at the Grammys, and I went “Oh!” She’s writing about herself, and every teenage girl in the world can relate to it because they’ve experienced that too. That’s the job, man. And I’ve kind of been a fan ever since.

Via Chicago Reader