Steve Earle -- country rebel, playwright, actor, and now novelist -- fishes an iPhone from his weathered denim jacket, eager to show Will Sheff a video of his one-year-old son, John Henry, bopping his head to "The Valley," the opening track from I Am Very Far, the artfully raw sixth album from Sheff's band Okkervil River. "As soon as the drums came in," Earle says in his laconic drawl, "it was automatic. It gets the John Henry Seal of Approval."
With his corduroy suit and glasses, the Okkervil River frontman could pass for an English professor, whereas Earle looks like a particularly wise roadhouse bouncer, weathered, but more robust than he ever could have dreamed during bouts of drug addiction and jail time in the '90s. But they have more in common than appearances might suggest: Sheff, 34, and Earle, 56, are both former Texas residents who have recently relocated to New York City, and both have spent their careers reshaping melodic folk, country twang, and novelistic storytelling to fit their idiosyncratic visions and those of their heroes.
Read the rest of the story and see the video at SPIN.