Drive-by Truckers The Big To-Do

Re: the newish Drive-by Truckers album The Big To-Do.  I get the sense that the Drive-by Truckers are slightly underestimated or perhaps ghettoized, ignored by listeners who presume they’re too Southern rock/country for their tastes.  For my money the Drive-by Truckers are probably the best rock band over the past decade, or at least have produced the most consistently excellent music.  Maybe living in Southern Indiana has slightly conditioned me to ‘get’ them in a way I might not have as much in Boston or wherever.  They definitely articulate a working-class Southern perspective that feels pretty authentic here.  E.g., from Brighter than Creation’s Dark, “You and Your Crystal Meth”:

I ain’t exactly a no-drug guy, Don’t dig the way that you get high
Hope your kids don’t see you throwing up, Hope they ain’t there if the house blows up
Hope you ain’t murdered in your sleep, Up all night with that cranked out creep
You ain’t eaten and you ain’t slept; You and your crystal meth
Indiana and Alabama, Oklahoma and Arizona.
Texas, Florida, Ohio, Small town America, right next door
Blood soaked your pillow red; You and your crystal meth

My favorite DBT songs are a bit less bleak than that one, though: “Heathens,” “Marry Me,” “Dead, Drunk, and Naked”(! one of their mythologizing tracks from the concept album Southern Rock Opera) and “Two Daughters and a Beautiful Wife,” about a guy who dies and realizes, up in heaven or wherever he is, that of all the little memories that replay in his mind, the ones he most remembers are: “Laying round in bed on a Saturday morning/ Two daughters and a wife/ Two daughters and a beautiful wife,” and he ends up thinking, maybe that’s what heaven will turn out to be.  “Heathens” is maybe my all-time favorite: “We were heathens in their eyes at the time, I guess I am just a heathen still.”

Anyway, the new one’s good too, more sometimes-joyful songs about death, diminished expectations, alienated labor, family, and self-medication, as ever very well-suited to our recessionary times: “The Fourth Night of my Drinking,” “Daddy Learned to Fly” (that one’s a real weepie, told from the POV of a kid who doesn’t understand his father has died, shades of “We Are Seven”), “This Fucking Job.”

Here they are performing “Daddy Learned to Fly” in Baltimore:

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