'Sunny Came Home' Singer Shawn Colvin Still Sober, Still Touring

By McCarton Ackerman 08/02/16

Colvin says in the beginning of her sobriety, her mindset was on "shame and self-loathing," but that changed when she was told to "treat herself like a sick person." 

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'Sunny Came Home' Singer Shawn Colvin Still Sober, Still Touring

Nearly 20 years after winning two Grammys for her hit song “Sunny Came Home,” nineties singer-songwriter Shawn Colvin is still working a program and back on the road with a new album.

Colvin, 60, is touring with longtime friend Steve Earle in support of their new album Colvin & Earle. Both are in recovery—Colvin has been sober since 1984 and Earle since 1994 after spending two months behind bars on weapons and cocaine possession charges. Colvin chronicled her recovery in her memoir, Diamond in the Rough.

"When I became sober, I was 27 and struggling as an artist. The bottom dropped out when I was 19. I was given an antidepressant, and it really helped. But then, as many depressives do, I went, 'I don’t need this,' and I went off the drugs,” Colvin told the New York Times in June. "So the depression and anxiety returned, and I learned to medicate myself with beer and wine. I was very controlled: I was getting drunk, but I was totally under the radar. But I had suicidal hangovers that were about to take me down, so I knew I had to quit.”

Earle, 61, said his drug addiction hit its peak in his early 30s, after he began experiencing success with his music.

“In 1986, I made this record and all of a sudden people paid attention to me. I could afford more and better drugs, and by 1992, I was homeless,” he said. “I was borrowing friends’ cars to sleep in. I didn’t have a guitar. I didn’t make any music.”

But even though they’re sober, both Colvin and Earle are under no illusions that quitting drugs and alcohol solved all their problems. Earle is open about his relationship struggles, while Colvin also acknowledged that partnering up is "my Achilles’ heel." But through the recovery meetings Earle makes on the road and the phone meetings Colvin takes part in, they’ve learned to be more forgiving with themselves.

“I remember when I was first getting sober, part of the mind-set of an addict is that there’s shame and self-loathing. And somebody said, ‘Treat yourself like a sick person.’ That helped me so much,” said Colvin. "It was like, 'Oh, I don’t have to own this emotional baggage, I’ve been sick.'”

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.

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