Steve Earle himself singles out Walker as one of his biggest songwriting inspirations:
“There was a time in my life when I wanted to be Jerry Jeff Walker more than anything else in the world.
In hindsight, it must have been more than obvious that, having yet to find my own voice or personality, I was imitating my hero; the Jerry Jeff we had all come to know and love.
The Gypsy Songman, who had arrived at the perfect time to stand at the Austin epicenter of the final chapter in the evolution of what was then called Progressive Country.
Today, Earle released his own take on the classic Jerry Jeff Walker song, “Mr. Bojangles,” which has been covered by greats like Bob Dylan and Sammy Davis Jr.
In fact, “Mr. Bojangles” was the first song Earle had ever heard from the man at age 14, when his high school drama teacher gave him a copy.
Earle weighed in on the classic tune from the man he met in a New Orleans prison, saying it’s not his only great song:
“There’s a tendency to think of Jerry Jeff around a relationship with a song. He was also a great performer of other people’s songs.
But my main goal in recording this album was to remind people that he wrote a lot of fucking great songs.
Earle moved to Nashville in the 70s and actually got to know Jerry Jeff, as he eventually became his designated driver.
The full tribute album is set to be released on May 27.