"disgrace and pride, forgetting and remembering, change and stasis”
September 17, 2021 7:34 AM   Subscribe

Where the Devil Don't Stay: Traveling the South with the Drive-By Truckers: "The book is partly a band biography of the Drive-By Truckers, partly a travelogue through the South they depict in their songs, and partly an examination of the cultural and political underpinnings of their music. The chapters are all grounded in specific places—including the Shoals, Birmingham, Memphis, Richmond, and Athens, Georgia. Geography is more prominent than chronology, although it does trace their arc from southern rock band to American Band. That 2016 album is renowned for its very explicit political songwriting, but I argue that their songs have always had a political edge to them. They have always grappled with gun violence, income inequality, extremism of all kinds, the urban/rural divide, Confederate flag and monuments and Southern iconography in general, but for most of their career they did so through the filter of characters and stories and places. On American Band they confronted these matters very directly and very explicitly, which has carried over to The Unraveling and The New OK." (Bookshop/University of Texas Press)

The Drive-By Truckers' Athens Beginnings: An Exclusive Excerpt from Where the Devil Don't Stay:
Somewhere in between, Patterson would write songs, wordy compositions about his rock heroes, about broken branches of his family tree, about his first and current wives, about this corner of the country he called home. He played in a few bands, including a rock outfit called, regrettably, the Lot Lizards. And he started to dream up a new band, one with no fixed lineup and no rehearsals, one that could swing from hard-crunching southern rock to jangly acoustic alt-country, one that would specialize in barely keeping it between the ditches: raw, powerful, gloriously sloppy. He wanted something that was unhinged and wild and unpredictable even to those onstage, but also he wanted something with the flexibility of the Hot Burritos, something that could accommodate more personalities and songwriters than just himself. Before he gave his notice at the High Hat and graduated to the 40 Watt sound booth, the Truckers would be up and running, testing this concept with some harebrained schemes, some shit-eating grins, and a lot of seat-of-their overalls touring.
The Drive-By Truckers Book a Road Trip of Music and Geography:
Perhaps the best known lyrical phrase in the Drive-By Truckers discography comes on “The Southern Thing” track from Southern Rock Opera in which Patterson Hood tussles with the concept of “the duality of the Southern thing.” And how a region’s culture, lifestyle and sociology is consistently two things at once, seemingly at odds with each other. In the book, Deusner writes “That phrase puts words to my own vague struggle about where I come from: disgrace and pride, forgetting and remembering, change and stasis.”
THE READING ROOM: Tracing the Drive-By Truckers’ Physical and Moral Map
LGM Podcast: Where The Devil Don’t Stay
Author Stephen Deusner put together a Spotify playlist for the book.

Patterson Hood and DBT's politics previously: "The song doesn’t offer any answers; I have none.", The More things Change, The More They Stay the Same, The Duality of the Southern Thing
posted by not_the_water (18 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
 
I met these guys while helping out on the Capital City Barn Dance in Richmond Va way back in 1997 or so. I still have one of their early 7" records "9 Bullets" - their continued success has always been great to watch. (as is their show!) - Also shout out to Wes Freed who has done a bunch of their artwork over the years.
posted by djseafood at 7:39 AM on September 17 [3 favorites]


They were a staple of some of the bars in Atlanta during my 99-09 residency. The Star Bar, in particular.

I have always liked that their music addresses the conflict a lot of white Southerners have about being Southern--something I myself carry to this day--but never shies away from the ugly bits.
posted by Kitteh at 7:59 AM on September 17 [5 favorites]




I love the Truckers so, so much. This is going to be a treat.
posted by joycehealy at 8:27 AM on September 17 [1 favorite]


This post is for me!!! THANK YOU. I do love the Truckers so very very much. Hoping I have the nerve to go to a long-postponed show in a couple of weeks. Having grown up in the Ozarks, I recognize a kinship in the duality of the Southern thing.
posted by Occula at 8:59 AM on September 17 [1 favorite]


A few years ago I met William Gibson at a book signing. He was gracious enough to chat while he signed, and when I asked him what he'd been listening to, he said the Drive-By Truckers. Given how quickly I usually check out things Gibson recommends, I'm ashamed I still haven't listened to DBT. This post is gonna make me fix that, so much obliged.
posted by heteronym at 9:13 AM on September 17 [1 favorite]


"When I first heard them, I was trying to reckon with the place and its legacy, trying to balance my love for my home with its ugly history."

i feel very very seen
posted by Kitteh at 9:25 AM on September 17 [4 favorites]


Big fan of the Truckers although I have only seen them twice. Once in NYC where I stopped at the merch table on the way out and was lingering. Thee guy behind the table asked what I was looking for. Vinyl. Wow, we never get many people asking for Vinyl, but I have some in the box. I asked how much. He said $20 for an album, but since I was the only one who asked, he said he would give me the three he had for the same $20. The other time was in Charlottesville. This was many years ago. They stopped by a leading management firm to consider becoming a client. During the meeting, the members of the band that were there each cracked open a six pack of beer and proceeded to drink them. Not sure that went over too well, but, as they say, to thyne own self be true. If you're a rock and roll beer drinker, be a rock and roll beer drinker.

I really appreciate the lyrics and the thought that went into them. Not simple somebody done somebody wrong songs. Thanks for the post.
posted by AugustWest at 10:05 AM on September 17 [1 favorite]


What It Means is a magnificent song.
posted by Paul Slade at 10:16 AM on September 17 [3 favorites]


Their music is part of the permanent rotation at my house and a consistent source of conversation. From an article on The Unraveling in Pitchfork last year:

Back in 2015, Patterson Hood published an essay in the New York Times Magazine expressing the disgust he felt after seeing people wave the Confederate flag at a Drive-By Truckers concert. He urged them all to burn the old rag: “It is time for the South to—dare I say it?—rise up and show our nation what a beautiful place our region is, and what more it could become.” Condescending northerners would always say that the South needed to become like the rest of the country. George Wallace shocked them again when the 1960s lurched rightwards, piling up votes in some of their own enclaves. You can find a constituency for white identity politics and its gothic resentments all across America. On Southern Rock Opera Hood imagined the Devil, “who is also a Southerner,” brewing up sweet tea for his new tenant George. The Unraveling has the despair of a wish granted hideously wrong.
posted by grimjeer at 2:18 PM on September 17 [2 favorites]


On Southern Rock Opera Hood imagined the Devil, “who is also a Southerner,” brewing up sweet tea for his new tenant George.

That song lead me to Dan T. Carter's excellent biography of George Wallace, The Politics of Rage.
posted by MonkeyToes at 2:39 PM on September 17


Kitteh, you and I probably crossed paths at The Star Bar. I was living in L5P, either off McLendon or Euclid during most of that time.

This line for me:
"Granted, I was never one of the people they’d sing about in their songs, but I’m definitely a product of the same South that produced them."

Yeah...I feel that all the way to my bones. Parts of my family have been in Georgia since before Georgia was a state, so I grapple with this too.
posted by ralan at 2:52 PM on September 17 [1 favorite]


During the meeting, the members of the band that were there each cracked open a six pack of beer and proceeded to drink them. Not sure that went over too well, but, as they say, to thyne own self be true.

Curious. I remember hearing the lines “I used to hate the fool in me, but only in the morning. / Now I tolerate him all day long” from 2008’s Perfect Timing and thinking that those guys had to be sober.
posted by heyitsgogi at 4:25 PM on September 17


Kitteh, you and I probably crossed paths at The Star Bar. I was living in L5P, either off McLendon or Euclid during most of that time.

Probably! I used to be in this absolute shithole on McLendon, but then moved to a nice apartment around the corner on Oakdale. I walked drunk way too many times home from the Star Bar. Hell, I walked home drunk way too many times from the Vortex, the Yacht Club, El Myr...

For five years, I was the girlfriend of a known Atlanta music scene musician (he was in KingSized, when swing came back around) and it was a very hazy time of my life!
posted by Kitteh at 4:50 PM on September 17 [1 favorite]


I moved out of Candler Park a long time ago, in the 90's, when I left Atlanta. I loved that neighborhood.

I walked drunk way too many times home from the Star Bar.
This was dangerous when I lived there! I hope that situation improved by the time you arrived.
posted by thelonius at 5:26 PM on September 17


If you're interested in finding a comic book that wrestles with some of the same themes the DBTs tackle, give Southern Bastards a try.
posted by Paul Slade at 12:47 AM on September 18 [1 favorite]


This damn San Francisco liberal loves DBT as far back as “The Dirty South.” Their postponed 2020 tour is coming back to the Fillmore in February, and I can hardly wait.

“Never Gonna Change” could just as easily have been written about some punks I knew in Western Mass. back in the 80’s. A lot of this stuff is nationwide.
posted by panglos at 7:37 AM on September 18 [1 favorite]


The duality bit has always spoken to me - I was a kid born in the South (in Florida - I know some people don't think that's the "South" but trust me, come to my hometown) and I always felt that push pull between pride of being from there and disgust/anger/confusion at the racist crap that infused everything.

DBT definitely helped me solidify what was going on for me.
posted by drewbage1847 at 9:47 PM on September 18 [2 favorites]


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