David Simon wrote the liner notes essay for Steve Earle’s boxed set “The Warner Brothers Years,” giving some backstory to Earle’s life and to his appearances in The Wire as Walon, Bubbles’ sponsor for one of his attempts to get clean. It’s really great:

I learned something else about him on that, his first trip to Baltimore to work on “The Wire,” and it’s this:  Steve Earle is a genuinely smart soul, an autodidact of astonishing scope and — albeit with all the mannerisms of an unrepentant redneck — a bit of a Renaissance man.

I don’t know about you, good reader, but anyone who can be described as an autodidact and an unrepentant redneck is most likely someone I’d want to meet. Although I’m more partial to hillbillies myself.

Then there’s this New Yorker piece, which is typical for them, longform, well-written and a good read.

Never heard of him? This metafilter post is a great start.