Kevin Morby Covers Justin Townes Earle’s ‘Harlem River Blues’

By Andy Kahn Sep 17, 2020 7:03 am PDT

Kevin Morby shared a cover of Justin Townes Earle’s “Harlem River Blues.” Earle died of a suspected drug overdose at the age of 38 on August 20 in Nashville.

Morby, who is currently playing a series of opening sets for Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats at socially distanced shows at Red Rocks, is also in the midst of a weekly livestream series featuring complete performances of each of Morby’s solo records. The livestream program began with Morby’s 2013 solo debut, Harlem River, which features its title track.

  • In Memoriam: Justin Townes Earle 1982 - 2020

    In Memoriam: Justin Townes Earle 1982 - 2020

    Singer-songwriter Justin Townes Earle has died at the age of 38.

Morby posted a shorter version of Earle’s “Harlem River Blues” on Instagram soon after news of Earle’s death broke, writing this accompanying note [edited slightly for clarity]:

After I wrote “Harlem River” I Googled it to see if there was any other songs by the same name and that’s how I discovered Justin Townes Earle. I’ve listened to this song countless times and it now holds new and even heavier weight. A beautiful master craft of a timeless song that could be put in the ring with some of the heaviest Carter Family tunes.

My own “Harlem River” is about one drowning themselves in the same water JTE sings about drowning himself in. I never met him but always felt a kinship to him in that we both seemed to be inspired to write a song about the same body of water that evoked a similar feeling. Glad to have occupied that psychic plane with him, and I’m glad to have his music.

Rest easy Justin Townes Earle.

Justin Townes Earle’s father, fellow singer-songwriter Steve Earle, announced his intention to record an album of songs written by Justin. Proceeds from the project will go to a trust established for Justin’s daughter, Etta St. James Earle. The covers album is expected to be recorded by Steve Earle & The Dukes in October and released in January, coinciding with what would have been Justin’s 39th birthday.

Watch Kevin Morby cover Justin Townes Earle’s “Harlem River Blues” below:

Kevin Morby (See 3 videos)
Kevin Morby (See 56 videos)
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