Perhaps the best way to describe Steve Earle is to say what he is not, but part of the lengthy list of what he is is songwriter, musician, actor, radio host, playwright, author and activist.
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Earle performs Friday in Atlanta at City Winery and on Feb. 8 and 9, and he joined “City Lights” host Lois Reitzes in studio to talk about his latest album “So You Wanna Be an Outlaw,” which came out last year.
The conversation started with a lesson in outlaw music, which he explained was more of a historical moment in the ’70s with country artists claiming their agency over their music.
“That was what it was about. It was about country artists realizing that rock artists had artistic freedom that they didn’t have,” explained Earle. “So, they stood up to make records the way they wanted to and, therefore, got tagged as outlaws.”
“So You Wanna Be an Outlaw” features duets with Miranda Lambert and Willie Nelson, and many of the tracks deal with loss — from the loss of love to the loss of Earle’s mentor Guy Clark.
“Loss — and death — is inevitable,” Earle said. “I’m not trying to hurry up that process, but I’m not trying to slow it down. … I accept entropy to a certain extent and make as much art as I can.”