|Steve EarleFor those who don?t know, Steve Earle has been, for the past two decades, one of the more compellingly engaged figures on the American cultural landscape. Steve is the author of best-selling works of fiction (?Doghouse Roses?), a playwright, and a well-known speaker and presence in a variety of left-leaning populist movements. But it is in his persona as an exceedingly thoughtful, yet fun, country rocker that most people know him, and rightly so. His contribution to the merging of progressive country to the wider rock audience remains huge. Indeed, there is every reason to believe that the entire genre of ?alt. Country? would not exist without Earle?s ground-breaking extension of what used to be called ?folk-rock.? His recorded work, from the classic 1986 Guitartown onward through such excitingly heartfelt/redemptive works as Copperhead Road, I Feel Alright, El Corazon, Transcendental Blues, to the current The Revolution Starts?Now, represents an extraordinary catalogue of deeply personal music which compares favorably with such esteemed heroes as Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen, or even Bob Dylan.There are some who might wish Steve keep his rabble-rousing music to himself and simply turn out entire albums of tunes like ?Fearless Heart.? Steve is sympathetic to this point of view. But for now he feels little choice. As an American patriot, what was someone with a songwriting gift like his to do in the age of Bush? ?We?re in trouble, it isn?t anything you want to just sit by and pretend isn?t happening,? says the artist about his response to the current American place in the world.It isn?t anything you really want to argue with either. Because first of all, Steve Earle has been around. He has done his requisite hard traveling for his position as a cultural bard. He is no dilettante in what he loosely calls ?The Revolution?. Indeed, he is a renaissance man of the Revolution, a process which doesn?t necessarily have anything to do with AK-47s in the street or little red books written by Mao. The Revolution is a way to think, a way to live. Being up front in that number takes a little ego, that?s for sure. But it takes learning too --- life learning and book learning. Mostly, though it takes heart. Heart is something Steve Earle, who still ?falls in love a lot?, has plenty of.