License to Drive: Drive-By Truckers’ Southern Rock Opera

In 2001, Drive-By Truckers did something very uncommon. They crowd sourced an album. And not just any album mind you, but a double album. And not just any double album mind you, but an epic rock opera. And not just any rock opera mind you, but a Southern Rock Opera.

Under the leadership of Patterson Hood, the Truckers wrote and recorded a sweaty and heartfelt biography of growing up in the south, loving Skynyrd, but hating the people that loved Skynyrd, which sometimes that hate was directed at themselves. It’s not a typical “Tommy” rock opera, but more of a drunk and naked, howling at a big and full Alabama moon kind of rock opera.

 

The band ran out of money during the recording of the album, so they went to a fledgling online fan group, and were greeted with $23,000 from “investor” fans that were ready and eager to help the band press their third album.

Once the album hit the streets in September of 2001, it sold very well. It sold so well, that the band signed a large scale distribution deal and re released the album in June of 2002. The reason it did so well, is that someone would listen to it and fall in love with the passionate yet gritty songs, accompanied by poignant and thoughtful lyrics.

This was an immense album of solid songs taking the listener on a journey through the cinematic South, full of well-rounded characters. There’s the sheriff, the preacher, the governor, the football coach, the no good teenagers, their parents, and most importantly and prominently . . . the musician gods of the South.

 

16 years ago, DBT were writing rather progressive rock songs, and some of their songs are still a bit ahead of their time, if you’re like some of the characters in the songs. With a few administrations of separation from the release of this album, and especially with a few more in the future, looking back on this opus is a lot of fun and it will only get more important with time.

Unless you have an extreme aversion to Southern rock twang, but especially if you do, you should give this album a close listen at least once. You might learn something. Southern Rock Opera gets 4 out of 5 stars any day of the week and it should be in your personal collection.

 

By |2017-09-27T09:46:36+00:00September 27th, 2017|Categories: License to Drive|