Robert Earl Keen Is Looking for Charles Bowden

One of half-dozen or so widely influential songwriters who rose like a flying saucer out of West Texas in the 1980s, Robert Earl Keen brings to the Rialto a colorful array of songs about love, murder, good times, geography and the human condition. He might also sing a couple from his new record, Are You Ready for Confetti.

Last week he updated us on Guy Clark’s health, where he got his knack with a great story, some new trends in his writing and his quest for Charles Bowden.

Linda Ray: What do you remember from your previous visits to Tucson? Any anecdotes?

Robert Earl Keen: You know I've been through Tucson for a long time, from the mid-nineties. I think Tucson's … I like it it's a cool town. It's unique. The only thing that's frustrating is the grid and the lights. The downtown grid and the traffic lights.

Now what I'm really interested in, what is that play? Waiting for Godot? Or looking for somebody? I'm looking for Charles Bowden, is what I want to do now.

I almost had a revelation about Charles Bowden. Not about groundwater or bats or immigration or anything, but just the fact that how beautiful true journalism can be. (His work) completely changed my mind. Because I'd been, like, a fiction guy all my life and I love fiction. And was kind of snobbish about nonfiction and I read some of his stuff and just went “Wow!” This is the kind of writer I would like to be if I were a writer. He's fantastic.