Steve Earle & The Dukes – I Ain't Ever Satisfied (1987, Vinyl) - Discogs

Steve Earle – I Aint’ Ever Satisfied

For my 8th round pick in the song draft, I’d like to feature a song by one of my favorite artists, Steve Earle.  Together with Bruce Springsteen, John Hiatt, and Frank Turner, Steve Earle would comprise the Mt. Rushmore, if you will, of my favorite artists.

I Aint’ Ever Satisfied is off of Earle’s second record, Exit 0, released in 1987.  Given Earle’s life history (the varied musical styles, from country to rock to folk to bluegrass; the many record companies, string of marriages, and drug and addiction issues) it could perhaps be viewed as his theme song.  The singer in the song is never satisfied, always moving on to the next thing, culminating in this humorous conclusion:

Last night I dreamed I made it to the promise land
I was standin’ at the gate and I had the key in my hand
Saint Peter said “Come on in boy, you’re finally home”
I said “No thanks Pete, I’ll just be moving along”

I’ve always loved that image, of Earle standing at the gate, and the bearded St. Peter welcoming him to heaven, and Earle saying no thanks, and walking off into the clouds (or whatever).

This is one of my favorite songs by Steve Earle, and that’s saying something since there are many.  I think part of it is because of how I first heard it.  I was driving in my car, flipping channels on the radio, looking for a song I recognized.  I hit one channel and heard the initial acoustic guitar part of the song.  Not recognizing it, I quickly flipped away.  And then for some reason, I can’t tell you why, I decided to flip back to just hear a bit more of the song.  And that’s when I heard the drums and piano kick in, and the main melody start, and I was hooked!  Luckily at the end of the song, the DJ announced who it was, and I immediately knew I had to seek out the album.  I had heard of Steve Earle but didn’t know any of his music.  I loved Exit 0, went out and got his first album Guitar Town, loved it, and have been a fan ever since.  In my mind, Steve Earle is one of the best American songwriters out there.

Would I have become such a big fan of Steve Earle if I had not flipped back to I Ain’t Ever Satisfied? Perhaps, as I’m sure I would have been exposed to his music some other way.  But this experience made me feel that I was destined to be a fan if that makes sense.  Something made me switch back to the song.  And it taught me an important lesson – always be open to hearing new music, give a new song a chance even if it doesn’t sound like what you are expecting.  Don’t ever be satisfied, if you will, by what you know or enjoy.


  1. Paul…this is the song that introduced me to Steve Earle. It probably is my favorite of his for that reason alone. Sometimes it takes me a while to like a song but not this one…the first time is all I needed. Great story and hook. Our band played this one a few months after it was out. Great song.

  2. Yes Steve! Steve Earle on my Mount Rushmore of favorite artists- and this is one of his great songs! Excellent selection Paul and write up.

    • Picking Steve has gotten me on a mini listening binge. So many great song – I could have done a Steve Earle draft a d been happy. Kind of hoping you find room in late stages of draft to include one from him 😀

    • A Steve Earle draft! There are at least to me more than enough Steve songs to fill a draft! It has now been a couple years since I’ve seen him in concert- the longest dry spell I think since his comeback in 1995. What a songwriter…

  3. Great artist and interesting interviewee based on when I’ve seen him on TV. I heard “Guitar Town” a little bit but he really arrived on the scene in a big way in canada with “Copperhead Road”… love that tune!

  4. Paul, I first got introduced to Steve Earle when we had a rummage sale fundraiser at work and his “Train A Comin” CD was for sale for a quarter. Best money I ever spent, and to this day it’s my favorite CD of his. Great choice for the draft, both in artist and in song. Wonderful write-up as well.

    • Thanks CB! Is that his bluegrass album? Agree re how prolific he’s been. I remember seeing him in concert a few years back and he mentioned his upcoming projects – had them planned out a few years into future

    • Yes that’s his bluegrass album with Del and the boys and it’s killer. Levon Helm does a great cover of the title track on his own record. Earle has earned his reputation. Cool that he got his shit together and stayed alive.

    • Yes agree. Tragic Re his son though. Re Steve’s collaboration with Del I heard it was strained after awhile partly because Earle was swearing all the time and Del didn’t appreciate it 😀. Earle even jokes about it on a subsequent song

    • Yeah I think Steve was getting his act together and was probably pretty raw. Del and those guys would be pretty religious I would guess. They made great music together. Terrible with what happened to his son.

    • Never got to see JT. I was about to get tix once about a decade ago and concert was canceled as he was entering rehab. Steve still touring although am I correct that you are Down Under? Not sure he’s ever toured there.

  5. Steve Earl has always been straddling the line here in Texas. Too much outlaw, not enough outlaw, when he should be right there with Waylon and Willie. He’s always been big in Austin, but not so well known in the rest of the state. I can’t say why since he’s been around for a while, and is a great singer-songwriter. Copperhead Road might be his greatest effort. The music snobs in Austin think the rest of us black dirt hillbillies don’t know good music. They actually think Billy Eilish is a great singer since they had her headline the South by Southwest Festival. Jeez.

    • Never thought about that but I think you’re right about the Waylon Willie thing. Sometimes I feel like Earle was placed in a category between country and rock as so never really accepted by either. And he said to hell with you both and did his own thing

    • I read someone’s account of the ACL Festival this year and how Eilish did not fit in with what the locals viewed as music. Plus there was a lot political barking into microphones and a lot less actual music.

      Music snobs in Austin. LOL! Having worked in downtown Austin for nearly a decade (thankfully living one county away), I remember 6th street and the entire area being eat up with SRV copy-cats at the time. The only “outside Austin” music that the uptight Austinites accepted to a degree was ZZ Top. I was once warned not to go to a Sarah McLachlan concert as I would most likely get my ass grabbed…and it wouldn’t be a dude doing it.

      I loved Copperhead Road.

    • I spent a lot of time, and left copius amounts of money in that town. My son graduated from Texas State in San Marcus but we always went to Austin for meals etc. I also hung with the cowboy hippies in the mid 70s, and that’s where I got the term music snobs. I attended the ACL back in the early 2000s and vowed to never attempt that again. A million pilgrims trudging through the mud and mire ruining Zilker park. REM was the ones to worship, but Billy Joe Shaver owned that show. We did live in Georgetwon for 3.5 years before returning to Fort Worth and Granbury.

    • Bobcats! I came very close to attending classes at Texas State. Had a co-worker graduate from St. Edwards.

      The ACL article I read mentioned more mud. Did you ever make Eyore’s Birthday Party? Heard stories but, never went. Ever make a ROT Rally? Been to several of those. Been to a couple of Lone Star Rallies, too.

      I lived in Round Rock…well, Brushy Creek, really, off of FM620. I loved Georgetown. One of my very fave restaurants is there…I think…so many have closed. The only speeding ticket I ever got in Texas came from a Georgetown motorcycle cop on I-35 (which immediately reminded me of Smokey & The Bandit). I was in a rented pickup, preparing to move back to NC…2011.


    • I lived in San Antonio for a few years in the early 90s and we’d go up to Austin sometimes to see music etc. Funny I also got a speeding ticket on I35 once coming back – some podunk town along the highway whose main source of income was speeding ticket revenue. When I went to court the clerk brought us all into a separate room a d said we could contest it and be found guilty and pay like $200 or agree to a deal where they would change it to a parking ticket and pay like $80. So that’s what everyone did. Total scam

    • I think I remember you talking about going to UTSA.

      Heh. Sounds like Buda…or, maybe Kyle. That reminds me of being the victim of a shakedown in a spot-in-the-road town in Southeast Montana in 2002. Me and my ex were in a white panel van, converted into a travel/sleeper van. A big white van with out-of-state plates, moving about five miles an hour faster than the locals, kinda sticks out to the local badges. We were pulled over for seven miles over…whatever the speed limit was (never saw a sign). Roscoe P. Coltrane wrote us a ticket and set us a court date. My ex told him we’d never make it as we were just passing thru. Deputy Dawg actually said “We take cash.” My ex looked at me, looked at him and asked “What would that cost be?” Coltrane asked “You got $40?” The dutiful lawman shoved said $40 in his pocket and said “Have a nice day.” My ex looked at me, again, and said “I think we just got shook-down.” We beat feet out of Montana. The South Dakota Trooper we met a week earlier was far more integrity-bound.

    • Yeah worked at UTSA Health Science Center. I think it was Buda!
      Your story more infuriating and a bit scarier – at least it was only $40

    • You must have headed straight for UTSA after Duke.

      Buda was small when I arrived in 2002 (my ex & I went traveling before I started a new job). I can just imagine how small it was in the early 90s.

      It was a little unnerving. Having been raised in a law enforcement/FF family, I was unaccustomed to that level of blatant corruption. It felt like we had stepped back in time to the 60s or something.

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