dbt tracks week 23 - Uncle Frank ---> T.V.A.

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Clams
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dbt tracks week 23 - Uncle Frank ---> T.V.A.

Post by Clams »

Nobody does the rock song history lesson like DBT. From these two songs alone (and other tracks like Ronne & Neil), I probably know more about the history of the TVA and the south then 99% of the people I know. A cool and crafty college professor or high school history teacher could get months of lessons out of these two songs.

Someone posted back on 9B that Uncle Frank was Cooley's most Patterson-like song, and I think that's true. I love the honesty of including musicians (which basically means all of us) among the list of corporate types who fucked things up for old codgers like Uncle Frank.

TVA is a masterpiece. Sounds so simple but cuts so deep. Whenever my 10 year old son asks me to throw the football or take him fishing, I think of the line When I got a little older I wouldn't, and now Daddy can't and I say "Okay son, sure."




They powered up the city with hydro-electric juice.
Now we got more electricity than we canever use.
They flooded out the hollow and all the folks down there moved out,
but they got paid so there ain't nothin' else to think about.

Some of them made their living cutting the timber down,
snaking it one log at a time up the hill and into town.
T.V.A. had a way to clear it off real fast.
Lots of men and machinary, build a dam and drown the rest.

Uncle Frank lived in a cabin down on Cedar Creek,
bought fifteen acres when he got back home from overseas.
Fifteen rocky acres, figured noone else would want,
'till all that backed up water had to have some place to go.

Uncle Frank couldn't read or write
Never held down a job, or needed one in his life.
They assured him there'd be work for him in town building cars.
It's already going down.

The cars never came to town and the roads never got built
and the price of all that power kept on going straight uphill
The banks around the hollow sold for lake-front property
where Doctors, Lawyers, and Musicians teach their kids to waterski.

Uncle Frank couldn't read or write
so there was no note or letter found when he died.
Just a rope around his neck and the kitchen table turned on its side


******

I grew up two hours north of Birmingham.
Me and my daddy used to fish next to Wilson Dam.
He'd tell some stories about Camaros and JW Dan.
When I got a little older I wouldn't, and now Daddy can't.

But I thank God for the TVA,
thank God for the TVA.
Well, me and my daddy used to bow to the river and pray,
thank God for the TVA.

When I was fifteen, me and my girl sat out on the lock,
watching the raccoons and terrapins dance on the rocks.
She let me put my hand up under her shirt.
And I wanted her to want me so bad it hurt.

So I thank God for the TVA,
I thank God for the TVA.
Well, me and my baby used to lay around and wait on the day.
Thank God for the TVA.

My grandaddy told me when he was just seven or so,
his daddy lost work and they didn't have a row left to hoe.
Not near enough to eat for nine boys and three girls.
They all lived in a tent, a bunch of sharecroppers against the world.

So his Mama sat down and wrote a letter to FDR.
And a couple days later, two county men pulled up in a car.
They went out in the field and told his daddy to put down the plough.
He helped build the dam that gave power to most of the South.

So I thank God for the TVA,
I thank God for the TVA.
Well, Roosevelt let us all work for an honest day's pay.
thank God for the TVA.
I thank God for the TVA.
I had my ticket, but 2020 got canceled

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Re: dbt tracks week 23 - Uncle Frank ---> T.V.A.

Post by beantownbubba »

I've said this before, but what the heck:

These 2 ought to be released together on a single; a "concept 45" to borrow Greil Marcus's description of Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields.

There isn't a band out there that could release a song w/ the emotional depth, great writing and historical accuracy of 1 of these; to have 2 just lying around the catalog is pretty damn amazing.
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Re: dbt tracks week 23 - Uncle Frank ---> T.V.A.

Post by Zip City »

I burned out quickly on TVA for some reason. I don't know why.....it just kind of bores me.

I love Uncle Frank, though
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Re: dbt tracks week 23 - Uncle Frank ---> T.V.A.

Post by Smitty »

There's a couple live versions of TVA I prefer to the Fine Print or the bootlegged version - he did a medley with it & Outfit a couple times that was just amazing and fit perfectly.
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Re: dbt tracks week 23 - Uncle Frank ---> T.V.A.

Post by bootlegend »

I burned out quickly on TVA for some reason. I don't know why.....it just kind of bores me.


No bridge and it is a long song.

Great lyrics though.

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Re: dbt tracks week 23 - Uncle Frank ---> T.V.A.

Post by Mrs Swamp »

A Cooley classic for sure!!~ 8-)
I've heard tales of what goes down there ...

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Re: dbt tracks week 23 - Uncle Frank ---> T.V.A.

Post by blackwll »

They opened w/ U.F. a couple of years ago in Tallahassee (11-2-08 as I recall) on the RRMW tour w/ THS - killer.

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Re: dbt tracks week 23 - Uncle Frank ---> T.V.A.

Post by MattfromMass »

anyone noticed how many of isbells song's are in 6/8? He has a way of giving the 6/8 structure such a natural feel that you'd never know it unless you listened for it.

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Re: dbt tracks week 23 - Uncle Frank ---> T.V.A.

Post by Smitty »

Clams wrote:

Uncle Frank lived in a cabin down on Cedar Creek,
bought fifteen acres when he got back home from overseas.


Should be "lived on the bottle/bottom" - guess that was the original lyric or something.
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Re: dbt tracks week 23 - Uncle Frank ---> T.V.A.

Post by RevMatt »

Smitty wrote:
Clams wrote:

Uncle Frank lived in a cabin down on Cedar Creek,
bought fifteen acres when he got back home from overseas.


Should be "lived on the bottle/bottom" - guess that was the original lyric or something.

I thought it was "bottom", the meaning being it was a low lying area at the bottom of the hollow that would be turned into a lake.
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Re: dbt tracks week 23 - Uncle Frank ---> T.V.A.

Post by Gaetzi »

I could never decipher that lyric, my guess was 'lived on the plot'
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Re: dbt tracks week 23 - Uncle Frank ---> T.V.A.

Post by Tyler »

I've always heard lived on the bottom, but listening to it critically now, it could easily be bottle. It's not cabin though.

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Re: dbt tracks week 23 - Uncle Frank ---> T.V.A.

Post by beantownbubba »

Haven't listened since I saw these last few posts, but damn, "bottle" would suck big, big time. Would rip the heart right out of the song. Thus, even w/out listening I'm gonna say that whatever Cooley's singing, it's not bottle.
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Re: dbt tracks week 23 - Uncle Frank ---> T.V.A.

Post by bovine knievel »

beantownbubba wrote:Haven't listened since I saw these last few posts, but damn, "bottle" would suck big, big time. Would rip the heart right out of the song. Thus, even w/out listening I'm gonna say that whatever Cooley's singing, it's not bottle.


I hear bottom.

I agree with BTB that bottle would rip out the heart of the song.
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Re: dbt tracks week 23 - Uncle Frank ---> T.V.A.

Post by Smitty »

bovine knievel wrote:
beantownbubba wrote:Haven't listened since I saw these last few posts, but damn, "bottle" would suck big, big time. Would rip the heart right out of the song. Thus, even w/out listening I'm gonna say that whatever Cooley's singing, it's not bottle.


I hear bottom.

I agree with BTB that bottle would rip out the heart of the song.


I agree, but some versions it's kinda indistinguishable.
RevMatt wrote:I thought it was "bottom", the meaning being it was a low lying area at the bottom of the hollow that would be turned into a lake.


Yeah, and that's a common term down here although it's usually plural (bottoms). Not sure I've heard it singular so that kinda throws me.
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Re: dbt tracks week 23 - Uncle Frank ---> T.V.A.

Post by wolfgang »

Does it bother anybody else that TVA is historically inaccurate?

1) TVA didn't build Wilson Dam
2) Wilson Dam was finished before the creation of TVA and the presidency of Roosevelt.

He could have helped build one of the other dams I guess, but Wilson is the largest and the only one that might have 'gave power to most of the south"

Any history experts have anything to add? Maybe I'm wrong.

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Re: dbt tracks week 23 - Uncle Frank ---> T.V.A.

Post by beantownbubba »

wolfgang wrote:Does it bother anybody else that TVA is historically inaccurate?


No. Well, at least it doesn't bother me.

It's getting old I suppose but once again I have to quote Patterson: "It's where to plant the camera and when to say action
When to print the legend and when to leave the facts in"

Yes, the Wilson Dam was built before there was a TVA, but the dam was run by the TVA once it was established so I'm sure that's how it was referred to in the "oral history" that gets passed down between the generations and sticks in the mind more than book learning. Also, many more dams were built by the TVA and its those collective dams that gave power to most of the south, not any single one. As I understand the geography, Wilson Dam is the closest to where Jason grew up so for him to intentionally or unintentionally refer to that one as the one is not surprising. Even more confusing, as I understand the song, Jason's talking about his great-grandfather (his grandfather was 7, etc etc). That would make the timing right for building Wilson Dam even though it would be totally wrong for FDR. OTOH, you know those "county men" didn't arrive "a couple of days later," either - figure in the time for the letter to get to Washington, for the bureaucracy to creak into action and for word to get back to rural alabama - a lot more than a couple of days.

All in all, it seems to me to be a well w/in artistic license combined w/ the conflating of actual events into family oral history that isn't quite factually accurate but is totally accurate in the big picture. It would not be surprising for the people Jason's singing about to revere FDR even if he wasn't personally responsible for getting great grandad a job working on the dam or for them to appreciate the miracle of the electric power that came from both Wilson Dam and the many others actually built by the TVA.
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Re: dbt tracks week 23 - Uncle Frank ---> T.V.A.

Post by wolfgang »

I get what you are saying. Jason's been known to take some license with his story songs. In Decoration Day where he says his (the character) daddy's grave isn't marked, it really is marked. It even says "King of Mt Zion" on it.

And if I'm going to be overly-critical, Cooley's song isn't 100% factual either. It kind of takes several stories from the area and meshes them together. The dam at Cedar Creek doesn't product any power. And its a long way (45min to an hour) away from where the power is produced and where the cars where supposed to come to town.

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Re: dbt tracks week 23 - Uncle Frank ---> T.V.A.

Post by pearlbeer »

I've been listening to Uncle Frank a lot lately. Man, what a great song.

If you haven't seen the documentary The Secret to a Happy Ending, you should. Love the part where the Southern history professor says "I have a Doctorate student who spent years writing his thesis on this subject and Cooley did a better job in 4 minutes." (or something like that)

Interesting reading that this is 'the most Patterson' Cooley song. Yeah, it does paint an amazing picture and tells a story. However, it's Cooley all the way IMO. It's that last line: "Just a rope around his neck and a Kitchen Table turned on its side." The song just...ends... No moral, no lesson, no summary, no look towards the future. Just a f*cking kitchen table turned on its side. To me...man, THAT is all Cooley.
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Re: dbt tracks week 23 - Uncle Frank ---> T.V.A.

Post by dime in the gutter »

snaking it one log at a time up the hill and into town

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Re: dbt tracks week 23 - Uncle Frank ---> T.V.A.

Post by beantownbubba »

pearlbeer wrote:I've been listening to Uncle Frank a lot lately. Man, what a great song.

If you haven't seen the documentary The Secret to a Happy Ending, you should. Love the part where the Southern history professor says "I have a Doctorate student who spent years writing his thesis on this subject and Cooley did a better job in 4 minutes." (or something like that)

Interesting reading that this is 'the most Patterson' Cooley song. Yeah, it does paint an amazing picture and tells a story. However, it's Cooley all the way IMO. It's that last line: "Just a rope around his neck and a Kitchen Table turned on its side." The song just...ends... No moral, no lesson, no summary, no look towards the future. Just a f*cking kitchen table turned on its side. To me...man, THAT is all Cooley.


How can you say that there's no moral, no lesson? Cooley may not do the work for the listener but the message(s) are right there.
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Re: dbt tracks week 23 - Uncle Frank ---> T.V.A.

Post by Zip City »

beantownbubba wrote:
pearlbeer wrote:I've been listening to Uncle Frank a lot lately. Man, what a great song.

If you haven't seen the documentary The Secret to a Happy Ending, you should. Love the part where the Southern history professor says "I have a Doctorate student who spent years writing his thesis on this subject and Cooley did a better job in 4 minutes." (or something like that)

Interesting reading that this is 'the most Patterson' Cooley song. Yeah, it does paint an amazing picture and tells a story. However, it's Cooley all the way IMO. It's that last line: "Just a rope around his neck and a Kitchen Table turned on its side." The song just...ends... No moral, no lesson, no summary, no look towards the future. Just a f*cking kitchen table turned on its side. To me...man, THAT is all Cooley.


How can you say that there's no moral, no lesson? Cooley may not do the work for the listener but the message(s) are right there.


Absolutely. It's the perfect counterpoint to TVA
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Re: dbt tracks week 23 - Uncle Frank ---> T.V.A.

Post by pearlbeer »

[/quote]

How can you say that there's no moral, no lesson? Cooley may not do the work for the listener but the message(s) are right there.[/quote]


Yeah, that is kind of my point - I mean, the whole song IS a moral lesson, showing two sides of the coin. Cooley doesn't wrap it up in a neat little package and provide a summary: just a kitchen table turned on its side
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Re: dbt tracks week 23 - Uncle Frank ---> T.V.A.

Post by Zip City »

It might now be "pretty", but I don't know how ambiguous Frank killing himself is. He was promised things by the TVA that he didn't get, and after putting all his eggs in that basket, he was left with nothing. Seems pretty clear to me
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Re: dbt tracks week 23 - Uncle Frank ---> T.V.A.

Post by John A Arkansawyer »

Zip City wrote:It might now be "pretty", but I don't know how ambiguous Frank killing himself is. He was promised things by the TVA that he didn't get, and after putting all his eggs in that basket, he was left with nothing. Seems pretty clear to me


That actually never occurred to me. I figured Frank just didn't want to do what he was told to do--go make cars all day instead of scratch out a living off a piece of land--and didn't have any alternatives.

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Re: dbt tracks week 23 - Uncle Frank ---> T.V.A.

Post by Zip City »

John A Arkansawyer wrote:
Zip City wrote:It might now be "pretty", but I don't know how ambiguous Frank killing himself is. He was promised things by the TVA that he didn't get, and after putting all his eggs in that basket, he was left with nothing. Seems pretty clear to me


That actually never occurred to me. I figured Frank just didn't want to do what he was told to do--go make cars all day instead of scratch out a living off a piece of land--and didn't have any alternatives.


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Re: dbt tracks week 23 - Uncle Frank ---> T.V.A.

Post by WarHenRecords »

Both songs are so sick.
I love that idea of putting them on a 7"
One of Jason's best early songs, IMO.
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Re: dbt tracks week 23 - Uncle Frank ---> T.V.A.

Post by ramonz »

http://www.furious.com/perfect/drivebytruckers.html

May 2006 interview with Jason -

Q: You also have friendly competitions where someone writes a good song that maybe inspires you to write something else?

JI: Oh, of course. Yeah, that always happens. When I came in the band, I had two... maybe one or two (songs) that were counterpoints to Cooley's songs that I had never heard before. So that was kind of neat- I came in and had just automatically, accidentally (had) written songs about the same topic that Cooley had written about and often about the other point of view.

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Re: dbt tracks week 23 - Uncle Frank ---> T.V.A.

Post by disgruntledgoat »

It took me until this morning to get the double meaning in the "price of all their power..." line. :roll:

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Re: dbt tracks week 23 - Uncle Frank ---> T.V.A.

Post by Clams »

Why has Uncle Frank never held down a job or needed one in his life? He seems like the type of guy who would have a strong work ethic, right? And in the next line they assure him there will be work for him in town building cars. Is he independently wealthy (doubtful)? Does he live off the land and therefor not need a job? After listening all these years, I still wonder about that line.
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