On This Day: Steve Earle Releases Debut Album ‘Guitar Town’ in 1986

by Katie Maloney
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Thirty-five years ago today, country superstar Steve Earle released his debut album, Guitar Town.

The album topped the Billboard country album charts, and the title track reached #7 on the country singles charts. Additionally, Steve Earle was nominated for two Grammy Awards for the title track: Best Male Country Vocalist and Best Country Song. Guitar Town ranked 27th on CMT’s 40 Greatest Albums in Country Music in 2006. And it even landed in the #482 spot on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time in 2012.

During an interview, Steve Earle talked about the themes behind the album.

“The first two things I wrote were Guitar Town and Down the Road, because I was looking for an opening and an ending.  So I wrote ’em like bookends, and then filled in the spaces in the middle,” said Earle. “And the album’s kind of about me.  It’s kind of personal.”

Steve Earle Knew He Hit it Big After a Concert in Chicago

Earle began his career as a songwriter in Nashville and released his first EP in 1982. But it wasn’t until he recorded Guitar Town that his career took off. During an interview, Earle reminisced about knowing the album was a hit after playing to a crowd in Chicago.

“It took a long time, but my dreams came true when I played a WXRT dollar show on the stage of the Park West in Chicago,” said Earle. “The place was full and I played my whole album and everything I’d written for the second album and ran out of songs. I had to come out with a guitar by myself and do a third encore. At that point, I knew I had a career.”

Since then, Steve Earle has recorded 20 studio albums and has won three Grammy Awards. Additionally, his songs have been recorded by Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Patty Loveless, Travis Tritt, Emmylou Harris, and more. He’s also appeared in film and tv shows, wrote a novel, a play, and a book of short stories. In conclusion, there isn’t a whole lot that Steve Earle hasn’t done.

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