Monday, September 04, 2006

Lemming's Artist of the Week: Drive-By Truckers

By Kanrei

This week’s artist of the week is a band that restored my pride in being a southerner. This band sings its songs about a lost South that has become hidden behind a legacy of racism and hate. It is a south that is beautiful and decent, but boring for most to talk about. This band is reclaiming southern pride while admitting past mistakes. The band’s name is the Drive-By Truckers and they are essential for anyone who loves classic and/or southern rock.

Church blew up in Birmingham
Four little black girls killed for no goddamn good reason
All this hate and violence can't come to no good end
A stain on the good name.
A whole lot of good people dragged threw the blood and glass
Blood stains on their good names and all of us take the blame
- Ronnie and Neil

The Drive-By Truckers are hard to narrow down to a specific sound or genre. They feature a three singer/ three guitarist attack that give them the range from Johnny Cash to the Sex Pistols and they make every stop in-between. In the country tradition they are storytellers first and singers second and in the punk tradition the music carries a lot of pent up rage and anger. It is the direct result of being raised to be ashamed of your past.

Ain't about no hatred better raise a glass
It's a little about some rebels but it ain't about the past
Ain't about no foolish pride, Ain't about no flag
Hate's the only thing that my truck would want to drag

You think I'm dumb, maybe not too bright
You wonder how I sleep at night
Proud of the glory, stare down the shame
Duality of the southern thing
–The Southern Thing

The “Duality of the southern thing” is a concept that they visit quite often. They love the irony of the racist Wallace ending is political career with something like 90% of the black vote. That is a prime example of the “duality of the southern thing”.

They do have full country songs and I must stress this fact because it took me by surprise as well. They rock like Lynard Skynyrd, but write some of the most heartfelt and truly depressing country lyrics I have ever read.

Dreams are given to you when you’re young enough to dream them
before they can do you any harm.
They don’t start to hurt, until you try to hold on to them after seeing how they really are.
She used to dream them with me, every single crazy one,
until they started hurting her too, now she’s got some of her own
and outgrowing me, might be the best thing for her she’s ever done.
- Sounds Better in a Song

I would recommend starting out with their concept double album called “Southern Rock Opera”. It tells the story of Lynyrd Skynyrd as well as their own personal history through a fictional punk band with southern roots. The main character grows up embarrassed by his racist ancestry and hates everything southern to show he was not a racist too. He grows up and joins a punk band and, while recording an album in a southern studio rediscovers a south he missed while growing up. It takes a few listenings for some songs, but most are instant loves and lyrically the entire album is engrossing.

Ya know racism is a worldwide problem and it's been since the beginning of recorded history… and it ain't just white and black… But thanks to George Wallace, it's always a little more convenient to play it with a Southern accent.And bands like Lynyrd Skynyrd attempted to show another side of the South… One that certainly exists, but few saw beyond the rebel flag… And this applies not only to their critics and detractors, but also from their fans and followers.- Three Great Alabama Icons

This is an essential Lemming addition to your collection.


Kanrei said...


Serena Joy said...

I don't know why I haven't heard of this band. I really, really like the sampling of lyrics you put up and am going to go listen to some tracks as soon as I get a chance.

If you're not already familiar with it, you might also like Southern Culture on the Skids.