Iconoclastic folk heroes don't come much bigger than Steve Earle. His career is long and distinguished, his politics loud and uncompromising. He's won awards, topped charts, collaborated with legends and had his songs covered by other legends.

Iconoclastic folk heroes don't come much bigger than Steve Earle. His career is long and distinguished, his politics loud and uncompromising. He's won awards, topped charts, collaborated with legends and had his songs covered by other legends.

Earle could be coasting on his reputation, but instead he just released a tremendous album called "I'll Never Get Out Of This World Alive," which he'll promote at the Southern this Thursday. Musically, it presents a rich palette for Earle's earnest, ever-so-grizzled narration. He does take a moment to bask, though: "Didn't know I was gonna live this long, now I'm sittin' on top of the world."