The art of story telling with Patterson Hood (interview) [Music]

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The Drive By Truckers (DBT) have an art to their song. Their style of music is the art of story telling. An interview with Patterson Hood, vocalist/ writer, gives insight into the life of song.

Lori Brownstein (LMB): The press has said that Go Go Boots has the most happiness out of all the records, not joy but happiness. Can you elaborate on this statement?

Patterson Hood (PH): This record has a pretty wide range of emotions. There's some stuff on it that's really dark. The darkest stuff we've ever done but there's also moments that are pretty joyful. There are two of the happiest songs I have ever written. There is "I do believe" which I actually wrote about my Grand-mother. It kind of paints a picture of an afternoon that I spent with her when I was a little boy. I was the age that my daughter was when I wrote the song. So, I am sure that tied in to it. I was about five. The record ends with "Mercy Buckets" which I consider very much a love song about my wife and kids and to my family. But, on the other side, there's some pretty dark stuff. The former cop that's kind of gone off the rails and is stalking his wife. The preacher that had his wife murdered. There are two songs about that based on a true story. So there's a wide range of stuff that's on the record.

LMB: The lyrics to your songs are very intellectual and detailed. It's story telling. What is intriguing about writing that type of song? Why do you choose to write songs as a story?

PH: I've always loved story telling. As a kid I loved having stories told to me. Most kids do and I don't know that you really out grow that. Maybe most people do? I don't know? It was definitely a big part of my childhood and something I've always been drawn to. When the Truckers first started, I was listening to a lot of old country records. It just nailed me. I became obsessed with the idea of trying to learn that style of writing It certainly is not all I do writing wise but it definitely is a big part. I'd say this album is probably more than the others has a lot of those type of songs on it. I like a good story ya know. That's the type of writing that kind of fell out of fashion, particularly in the Rock world. It has kind of fallen out of favor in the past 20 or so years, maybe longer. So, I liked that aspect of it too. There wasn't as many people doing it as there used to be.

LMB: As a writer, a writer about music, it is very difficult to express the power and emotion of music in the typed word. Is there anything that you can say that would convey your music on paper?

PH: In my more troubled teenage and young adult years, music was, at that time particularly rock-n-roll music, was the thing that got me through. those really darker times in my life. Now, what is mostly much better times in my life, it still is very often what makes the bad days not so bad. I spend a huge percentage of income on records. Probably more than my wife would really be happy about, except she's such a music lover too. Maybe it's the way some of us are wired? My happiest memories have a soundtrack to them. Whether it is falling in love or falling in love with a band or a concert I went to when I was sixteen or a concert that I went to last week. I could tell you what song was playing when my daughter was born. There's almost always music playing in our house. A lot of other people are like that. I'm thankful that some people like our band and love the music we make. Lord knows we're passionate about it. We don't play shows that are mediocre. If we have an off night, generally something has gone terribly wrong. We take that responsibility of people coming out and spending their really hard earned money in this economy to come see our band. We take that really seriously. I would rather quit and do something else than to go out and play lack luster or mediocre shows. People know that about us and, it is part of why our band has continued to grow even through this really difficult time, economically. I am very grateful I get to do what I love for a living.

LMB: Thank you very much for your time. I am looking forward to seeing you
in Louisville on the 9th.

 

Photo courtesy of: DBT Management Danny Clinch

 

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