Singer-Songwriter Robert Earl Keen, 66: ‘I’m Quitting the Road While I Still Love It’

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Robert Earl Keen, on the cover of his second album, from 1989

Don’t go looking for Robert Earl Keen’s name at the top of the charts. Despite releasing well over a dozen albums since 1984 and his years as a road warrior, he never had significant commercial success. But the singer-songwriter from Texas did have the respect of his peers, having his songs recorded by Nanci Griffith, George Strait, and Lyle Lovett, among others, and earning multiple awards for his accomplishments.

In a January 2022 post on his website and social media platforms headlined “Time Flies,” Keen announced he’s “quitting the road while I still love it.” His last tour date will be on Sept. 4 to be followed by a fan appreciation party the next day. He turned 66 on January 11 and insists “I’m not sick or or experiencing any existential crisis.”

From Keen’s post: You’ve heard people say “Time flies.” It’s a cliché. Funny thing about clichés and what makes them ubiquitous, is they ring true. Jackson Browne has a line in a song that encapsulates a lifetime in the blink of an eye. It’s difficult for me to absorb the concept but, I understand it as a feeling because I feel it more and more with each passing day. BUT, it is easier to say, “time flies.” We all know what that means.

There is no way to inventory the fantastic amount of incredible people that have touched my life. My family, friends, band members, fans, co-workers, teachers, advisors, confidants, and peers only begin to tell the story. I feel connected to everyone of them. If I can picture them in “the blink of an eye” like a snapping a photograph, I’m connected. And I do believe it’s the people that come in and out of your life that make life worth living or, in unfortunate cases, a living Hell.

Robert Earl Keen, in a 2020 photo on his Facebook page

Fortunately, I been blessed with a lifetime of brilliant, talented, colorful, electric and magical folks throughout my life. This chorus of joy, this parade of passion, this bullrush of creativity, this colony of kindness and generosity are foremost in my thoughts TODAY. It’s with a mysterious concoction of joy and sadness that I want to tell you as of September 4th, 2022, I will no longer tour and perform publicly. I plan to continue to write songs, interview a wide variety of celebrities and contributors for our Americana Podcast. I also embrace this as an opportunity to further support the musical community and the ever expanding body of young talent on our horizon.

I’m a strong believer in clarity and truth. As much as I love what I do, it’s more important that I do it well or not at all. I’m not sick or experiencing any existential crisis. I feel that making a decision and quitting the road while I still love it, is the way I want to leave it. I’ve witnessed first hand the alternative and promised myself I would go out feeling all the love for music and performing the same way I entered- with passion and enthusiasm.

We will be touring extensively up to and through September 4, 2022 and encourage you to get our attention, if you are interested in steering a tour your way. Our last two or three shows will be at Flores Country Store in Helotes, Texas and we will throw a fan-appreciation party on Labor Day, September 5th.

Thank you for all the wonderful shows throughout the years and, although it might not be apparent here, I promise, The Road Goes on Forever and the Party Never Ends.

Watch Nanci Griffith introduce Keen’s performance

Griffith died in 2021 at just 68.

Tickets to see Keen are available here.

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