Steve Earle Performs “Copperhead Road” On Letterman Way Back In 1989

A person playing a guitar

Taking it all the way back to 1989… only a couple months after I was born.

Nearly 32 years ago, Steve Earle stopped by Late Night with David Letterman for a performance of his 1988 hit “Copperhead Road.” It was the lead single from his third studio album of the same name, and if you know anything about country music, you know it went on to become one of the most well-known songs of all time among country and rock fans.

And even if you’re not familiar with it, you recognize the title.

After all, it’s been name-checked in a ton of other country songs written in the past few years. Songs like Luke Combs “Houston We Got A Problem,” Riley Green’s “I Wish Grandpas Never Died,” and Thomas Rhett’s “Drink A Little Beer” to name a few.

Afterwards, Steve sits down for an interview and Letterman leads with a hysterical (and dumb) question about Steve’s mandolin. Even as he asks, Letterman knows it’s a dumb question:

“Is that like a combination of a guitar and a violin, or is that dumb question?”

To which, Steve responds:

“Nah, it’s a real dumb question.”



A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock