On Tuesday night, I caught a show by one of my favorite bands, Drive-By Truckers. I hope you know DBT. Each of the band’s last four albums—Southern Rock Opera, Decoration Day, The Dirty South, and A Blessing and a Curse—has been on many Top 10 lists. DBT is a Southern rock band, and its music is heavy with guitars and drums. It’s a rock band, sure, but the band members (several from the Muscle Shoals, Alabama, area) are country. Make that capital-C Country.
What’s most impressive to me about DBT are its songs, which are often stories about small-town or rural Southern life. Take, for instance, “Loaded Gun in the Closet,” a song from Decoration Day about a stay-at-home wife. Her husband keeps a gun in the closet, and it becomes a symbol of how these two care for one another:
Most women today would say she was a disgrace.
Most men would say she wasn’t much to look at.
And they all would say she’d be a lot better off
if she cared a little more about what they all think.
She could have a life of her own if she had a little pride,
some silicone implants, and another man on the side.
But she’s got a loaded gun in the closet.
And it’s there anytime she wants it.
And her one and only man knows it and
that’s why he put it there in the first place.
Or consider these lines from “Puttin’ People on the Moon,” from The Dirty South, a song recounting the story of the narrator’s marriage to Mary Alice:
Mary Alice quit askin’ why I do the things I do
I ain’t sayin’ that she likes it, but what else I’m gonna do?
If I could solve the world’s problems I’d probably start with hers and mine
But they can put a man on the moon
And I’m stuck in Muscle Shoals just barely scraping by
“Puttin’ People on the Moon” was written by Patterson Hood, who provides most of DBT’s lead vocals. (Mike Cooley sings quite a bit, too.) Hood, by the way, released an accomplished solo album in 2004. I highly recommend it. He’s enormously charismatic and genuine. He seems good-natured and warm even when he’s cussing (cussin’?) and playing loudly. I couldn’t keep my eyes off him.
Speaking of noise, Tuesday night’s show was one of DBT’s so-called Dirt Underneath shows. These are more-acoustic, less-rock’n’roll shows. That’s not to say DBT wasn’t loud, though. I went to the concert with a buddy from work, and she spent much of the show covering her ears. And we were in the mezzanine. I didn’t think it was that loud, but she’ll probably still be able to hear when we’re 90….
What else will I remember about the show? Well, there were a lot of country-looking, bearded, muscular guys there. I kept wondering where they came from because they definitely seem at all Philly to me…. I’ll also remember the guy who didn’t want to get out of our seats. He did it about as nicely as he could (“The waitress said I could sit here, so I’m not moving.”), but there was this big production as the waitress—and then security—came over to mediate. It did get resolved, of course, but I could feel adrenaline coursing through my body for about the first 15 minutes of the show. And it was so needless: The guy’s seat, which I saw him in before he tried to commit seat-larceny, was directly behind mine. I can’t imagine why he thought my view was so much effin’ better.
Finally, I’ll remember all the Jack Daniel’s that DBT, and, in particular, bassist Shonna Tucker, polished off. My buddy thought the way the band members passed around a single bottle of Jack was a little too precious. But I like anyone with a fondness for Tennessee whiskey.
P.S. Here’s a set list of Tuesday night’s show.