Last Saturday I got to see the Drive-By Truckers play live for the second time. Both of those at The Phoenix in Toronto. Same as ever, they rocked the hell outta the place, and to a sold-out crowd this time around. I don’t know if Alt-Country/Americana/Southern Rock has gotten a little more respect up here, the snobbery worn thin for real, actual country music, or if the success, and frightening timeliness of the latest, critically acclaimed album, American Band, has paid off, but I was glad to see a damn good band who worked so hard get their due.
Anyways, this appears on my blog about writing and writing related things for some good reasons. Mainly, the Truckers are one of my favourite bands (that I first heard on the Friday Night Lights soundtrack, because FNL FOREVER), and who have written some of the most literary and affecting songs about poor and working class people that I’ve ever heard. There’s a narrative quality to their songwriting that shares similarities with all of the schools of writing I’ve been influenced by, such as the Hemingway, Elmore Leonard, Daniel Woodrell (who has gone on the record as saying he’s a fan), Donald Ray Pollack academies. Less is more, and their best songs weigh a ton. Easier than rambling further, here’s a thing from a couple years back where I talk about what I think of their music, and how they’re a very literary band…
This is from The Puritan (their supplement The Town Crier), where I published the story, Bandits back in 2013. It came up that I write to music always, and that I’ve written a ton (far more so since) to the music of the Drive-By Truckers.
So, thinking on that, and how much of an influence they were on my work, and a companion to the writing, I got this idea that I’d try to get them a copy of my fucking book…
Thanks to the sorcery of Jenna Illies, and T Cole Taylor, the Truckers’ road manager, I managed to get backstage after the show and hand a couple copies of Debris to Patterson Hood, one of the two founding member and songwriters. I also got to meet Matt Patton, formerly of The Dexateens, who took up playing bass for DBT after Shonna Tucker left, not long after the show I’d seen in 2011. We had a beer with those folks and then let them continue living their lives, but they were very good about it and Patterson told me they’d read the book. For a band who has been at it more than 25 years (if you count Hood and co-founder Mike Cooley’s Adam’s House Cat days), and in the middle of another of their lengthy, hard-rocking tours, I would’ve been happy just to give it to someone who’d give it to the band. But this was something else.
After many years just trying to get published at all, it is still hard to believe that the work I’ve done could get into the hands of people like the Drive-By Truckers, like John Irving, But, with a little luck and a ton of trying, it may just happen. In short, believe in your dreams and whatnot.
More to come soon, in the meantime, check out the latest Drive-By Truckers album, and their back catalogue, and see what it’s all about. It may just change your life, and inspire the shit out of you, as it did for me.
Take care. KH