"It's never, ever unpatriotic or un-American to question any fucking thing," observes Steve Earle. Or is it? In 2002, Earle found himself widely reviled for writing "John Walker's Blues," an attempt to get inside the head of the American who was jailed for hanging with the Taliban.
Just an American Boy offers a healthy shot of Earle's music -- bracing blend of Stonesy rock, honky-tonk twang, and bluegrass jangle -- but isn't really about his art. It's about being an artist in a cultural climate that encourages black-and-white perceptions of reality. While director Amos Poe's low-tech mishmash of performance footage, backstage vignettes, and encounters with the press leaves much to be desired technically, the documentary effectively captures Earle's whirlwind public life.