Thursday, July 1, 2010

An All American Band: The Drive-By Truckers

A few years back, my friend and co-blogger Fletcher McNeill told me that an indie Southern Rock band, The Drive-By Truckers was coming to town. He asked me if I wanted to go see them perform live. Not the biggest fan of Southern Rock, except the original Allman Brothers Band, I nonetheless paid attention when I later heard a few tunes by DBT on the radio and was impressed. I then purchased their latest CD at the time, The Dirty South, and started listening to it more intently.

I was flabbergasted by the songwriting, especially for "Where the Devil Don't Stay," "It Sounded Like a Train," and "Carl Perkins' Cadillac." And the songs grew on me even more as I listened to them repeatedly. The Austin City Limits website says that DBT "surveys the modern South with a complex blend of realism-tempered pride and compassionate but uncompromising analysis," and I agree.

The ballad "Carl Perkins' Cadillac," written in the third person, tells the story of how Sam Phillips, the founder of Sun Records, promised (and subsequently delivered) a Cadillac to the first artist who worked for him to achieve a gold record in sales. The song, in a flowing and reverent manner invokes the names of many of the founders of rock and roll -- Carl Perkins, Elvis, and Johnny Cash. Not coincidentally, DBT hails from the mini-musical mecca Muscle Shoals, Alabama, also the source of Sam Phillip's roots. The Muscle Shoals area continues to produce interesting new bands like DBT and Fiddleworms.

Back in 2004, attending that DBT live show with Fletcher, left me, in a word, amazed. The Truckers performed for several hours, going through a large chunk of their repertoire. Since then, despite personnel changes, they continue to put out quality albums. Still, I must confess that The Dirty South continues to be my favorite.

Enjoy "Never Gonna Change" from The Dirty South!

On a side note, DBT served as the backup band for Bettye Lavette's 2007 break-out album, The Scene of the Crime, which I mentioned in a previous blog.

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