New Letter From Patterson 1/18/2020

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Tequila Cowboy
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New Letter From Patterson 1/18/2020

Post by Tequila Cowboy »

Y’all

Wanted to stick my head in and say Hi and Happy 2020.
Thanks are once again in order to the fine folks at Three Dimes Down for all that you do in providing a forum for the most loyal of DBT Heathens and of course all you do to help raising funds for Nuci’s Space. Looking forward to Homecoming, our 20th, I think (kinda hard to count as they were a little erratic in the first few years but by my count we started in 2000 and possibly skipped 2007).

As most of you know we are about to release our 12th studio album, The Unraveling on Jan 31st. It seems to have leaked already so I presume many have already heard it. The reviews so far have been over the top great. The internet has been angry and bitterly divided. As Linda Ellerby would say, “So it goes”.

It’d be beyond cliche’ for me to say how proud I am of this one, as if I would ever put one out otherwise (although I will admit to being somewhat apprehensive about A Blessing and a Curse, but that’s a story for another time and place). That shit is somewhat subjective I guess, but to each their own. Can’t do anything about how they’re received, I can only make the record that the voice inside my head (and of course my band brother’s internal voices) leads us to make and then it all happens as it happens.

That said, I am super proud of the record we made. It was a tough one to write for reasons I will go into in a bit, a joy to record, a long wait to release (for a long list of reasons) and now that’s its upon us, I’m ready to take this dark son of a bitch out on the road and find joy in the loud noise it makes.

Last two nights were our first shows of the decade (unless you’re a purist that says that’s next year, but to me the 80’s started in 1980 and so on) and the first shows of the Armageddon’s Back in Town World Tour 2020. If Boulder and Denver shows were any indication, it’s going to be a fantastic year of Rock and Roll. The Rockshow seems to be the only relief I can find from the day to day bullshit surrounding us all and playing these brutal nuggets of darkness provides (for me at least) a sort of exorcism from it all. Such is the joy I get from playing in this band and doing this wondrous thing I get to do for a living.

There’s some misinformation floating around, some of my own making I’m afraid, and since this is a forum for our closest kin out there I figured it would be a good place to figure out how to address before I take it further.

DoIng press for this album has been challenge and I’m just starting to wrap my head around how to talk about it. This album, as political as it comes off on the surface, is profoundly personal to me (us), probably the most since A Blessing and a Curse or possibly even Decoration Day. Writing it was a tremendous challenge that I erroneously referred to as a writer’s block, but that’s not quite the accurate story.

During the gap between American Band and The Unraveling, I did indeed take a year off from songwriting, followed by the 8 months I spent writing what became “The Perilous Night” but I also wrote about 150 pages of the book I’m working on. Upon resuming songwriting I have written a bunch of what I hope to someday record as a solo record and some other songs that may or may not one day be deemed worthy of completion.

My problem, song-wise, was not an inability to write but a lack of a clear direction of where I wanted to go for a followup to what ended up being a bit of a rebirth for the band. I knew, instinctively that I didn’t have what i wanted but wasn’t clear yet on what “it” was. Writing “21st Century USA” provided me with the answer to that quandary and soon songs began to flow in their wondrous way. In the end, we ended up in Memphis and recorded 18 songs, 15 of which were mine.

The past four years has also seen a lot of other things to occupy us. All of our kids are getting older and being present is of utmost importance, especially considering that we still average well over 100+ days gone a year. One of my kids required a major surgery. None of us are getting any younger and attaining some sort of balance seems to continue to be hard. Life is too short not to live.

Then there’s the climate in our country. The shit show that is US politics has been a daily barrage of hate and disgust. As an artist, we felt compelled to address the world around us, but none of us wanted to repeat ourselves or disrespect our last album by making it again. Our first instinct was to head in a different direction but alas, that felt dishonest and frankly cowardly.

In the end, it was our kids that lead me where I went. (I won’t speak for Cooley, but I suspect he’d agree). My son is precocious enough to be overly aware of the world around him and his questions inspired part of what I wrote. When your kids come home freaked out about the Lockdown Drill they had in fucking elementary school… the rage from those feelings and the frustration of seeing yet another asswipe in DC address dead school kids in the hall with “thoughts and prayers’ lead to that song. It’s not political, it’s personal. It’s not an attack on anyone’s religious beliefs (I applaud anything that brings anyone comfort and peace in this world) it’s a middle finger to using them for an excuse for inaction.

On that end, I’m not naive enough to think for a second that the gun issue will ever go away. I don’t know the answer on that one. I grew up in Alabama, surrounded by guns. I actually won a blue ribbon at redneck summer camp from being a pretty decent shot. However, some common sense things like background checks and tighter checks and balances would definitely prevent at least some of these attacks and our country is definitely long overdue for a mindset change in our country’s relationship and worshipping of guns. People with restraining orders from their ex-wives shouldn’t be able to easily attain an AR-15. A little common sense folks.

In “Babies in Cages” I’m not necessarily advocating for open borders, I’m saying that small children should not be ripped from their mother’s arms and put in holding pens. It is literally happening and it is evil and the conversation I had with my son where I had to calm his fears that someone was going to take him from me and his mother and put him in a cage was horrific. The questions that led to when I had to explain why he wasn’t in danger due to his pale white skin was also terrible. I didn’t write the song with flowery poetic language, I wrote it bluntly and to the point. As it should be. I can get as poetic as a motherfucker when I so choose, but these times call for blunt talk and I wrote much of this album accordingly. I stand by every line and word I wrote on this album. I’ve never spent as much time editing and second guessing myself in my life as I have on this album and every damned syllable has a purpose and a reason for its existence.

Writer’s block probably wasn’t exactly a fair description of Cooley’s situation either. He and I have always had a radically different work method. I write and write and write and write. I then edit and whittle it down to what comes out the other end. There was a time in my life when I was averaging over 200 songs a year. I have slowed way down in later years due to the necessities of my job, life and family but still write a pretty fair amount. I put way more care into each and every song (even the failures that end up on the roadside) than I used to but still try to keep my process open. I also try to seek to new ways of writing. New styles and forms. Sometimes a song may call for a structured or disciplined approach, other times a more open ended rambling approach. I always try to end up with what’s appropriate for the song and subject matter at hand.

Cooley’s approach is more like carving in stone. It is much more time consuming and exacting. He tends to edit himself before writing it down. I guess that works for him, as it enables a song like “Grievance Merchants” to exist. There may be only two songs from him on this album but they’re both incredible and that one in particular is one of my all time favorites he’s ever written. “Slow Ride Argument” is a song that no one on Earth cold ever have written except for Cooley. What a wild fun ride that one is.

I wrote “Rosemary with a Bible and a Gun” about Memphis. It’s metaphors conjure up a lot of my experiences and history with the city on the bluff. My history with that town is long and sometimes very dark. Recording there provided me (at least) with a sort of wonderful epilogue to a long and sometimes sad story. I damned near didn’t survive my time living there in 1991 when I was 27. Our week there making this album was one of my favorite experiences of my life.

In the end, we came back from Memphis with way too much material for one album. For months I would listen to what we had and kinda revel in its sprawl as it meandered all over the map, but alas, I also didn’t want to put that kind of record out at this time. Lord knows, we’ve been known to do so, but this wasn’t the time for another Brighter Than Creation’s Dark type of album.

Last spring I produced Jerry Joseph’s next album in Water Valley Mississippi, then drove to Athens to mix The Unraveling. We wanted it to be sonically different from American Band. We had intentionally mixed AB with very little panning except for a a little guitar separation, opting for a nearly mono approach where it comes blaring out of your speakers like a freight train headed straight at you. (We had done the same with the live box set also). This time we opted for an opposite approach with wide pans and an almost cinematic soundscape. It’s lush and spacious. Matt Ross-Spang, who engineered, came over and mixed with Barbe and I am so proud of the way it all sounds. Wait til you hear it on vinyl. It’s our greatest sounding record by a long shot.

Months passed and we stayed busy touring and living our crazy lives.

The actual nine-song sequence that came out actually came to us rather suddenly after a long spell of second guessing everything. By then we had already mastered the 18-songs that we were still calling Memphis Hollywood Disco. Upon striping it down to the nine that are The Unraveling, it suddenly felt like an album. The album we wanted and needed to make. The album that speaks to what’s on our minds and in our hearts as we approach this election year, that no doubt will be fraught with turmoil and drama.

We all approved it and said we could get behind this and go out there and take it to the world. Damn the torpedoes as they say.

We put a lot of care into the album cover. Again, I was inspired by our children. The photo we used was by my dear friend Erik Golts of his son and mine taken at sunset on New Years Eve 2018, looking out onto the beautiful Pacific Ocean. To me it conjured the end of an old western movie as the sun is going down. It also could be a metaphor for this time we’re in, or perhaps a slight bit of optimism as we’re awaiting resurrection.

Any optimism I have is centered around the young people that I am around. The millennials that work in our crew, our children and their wonderful friends. Young people who are speaking their minds and using their heads in far better ways than we did when we were their age. There may be hope after all.

In the end, I’m excited to get this beast out there and back on the road. I hope you all will join us for some Rock Shows and continue to follow us on this journey as we move onward into the new decade ahead. Fight the Power and Resist the day to day assholery. Turn it up loud and Love each other, motherfuckers!

A life worth living is a life worth taking a stand for.

See you at the Rock and Roll Show.
Sincerely,
Patterson
Rickey needs Rickey's houses to be clean

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Flea
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Re: New Letter From Patterson 1/18/2020

Post by Flea »

I needed to read this tonight. Thanks.
Now it's dark.

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Re: New Letter From Patterson 1/18/2020

Post by Zip City »

Writer’s Block is broken, I see :lol:

Great read, thanks for posting this.
And I knew when I woke up Rock N Roll would be here forever

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Re: New Letter From Patterson 1/18/2020

Post by Will »

Thanks for this, Patterson. I read it after my turn rocking our little one who’s running a fever this evening. I’m glad she’s going to grow up with your music. See you at Homecoming.

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Re: New Letter From Patterson 1/18/2020

Post by Sian-of-the-dead »

Thank you. Can’t wait to hear the album.
Truck Log Auditor extraordinaire.

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notjosephstalin
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Re: New Letter From Patterson 1/18/2020

Post by notjosephstalin »

Can't wait for the album.

A song can be personal, political or whatever the fuck you want it to be.
To the writer it's one thing to the listener it can be a whole other thing.

That was quite a letter.

Thank you.

Can't wait for Canada or maybe something near Buffalo
I tried but I could not. Stand in her way.
She stepped over me and was gone.

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Re: New Letter From Patterson 1/18/2020

Post by Jonicont »

After three years of fucking nonsense, it’s the record that had to be written, the record that needed to be heard, the record we wanted. Thank you DBT. Love you guys
Always go to the show

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Re: New Letter From Patterson 1/18/2020

Post by schlanky »

I've not heard the new album on the leak, but many of us have seen much of it on the road the last year or so. Thanks very much to Patterson for giving us a bridge from what we've heard on stage into his head.

Slow Ride Argument is as good as anything Cooley has ever written, and I can't wait to hear Grievance Merchants. I'm also curious to see how Rosemary sounds in a studio setting because it's so great on stage.

I'll be at Homecoming, and DBT will be close to home in Birmingham on May 1. In Birmingham, I'm taking four people who have never witnessed the miracle of the Rock Show--they've heard me talk so much about DBT that they said they wanted to see for themselves. (Sister and brother in law, my friend and his wife). Friend doesn't know it yet, but DBT is gonna blow his damn mind.
Tired of living in Buttholeville

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Re: New Letter From Patterson 1/18/2020

Post by PeterG »

Jonicont wrote:After three years of fucking nonsense, it’s the record that had to be written, the record that needed to be heard, the record we wanted. Thank you DBT. Love you guys
100% AGREE!
This is the album of the times, passionate, on point and powerful.
Every track packs a wallop, and the Message is Loud and Clear!
So proud and stoked to hear them live.
Long Live the RAWK Show!
take a deep breath and throw yourself into it with everything you got...it's great to be alive!

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Re: New Letter From Patterson 1/18/2020

Post by CooleyGirl »

Thank you, Patterson. It is heartwarming for you to take the time to share so much with all of us. I know I really appreciate it. I’m excited for this album & you’ll definitely see us at the rock show. (Shocking)

I thought what you said here regarding “Thoughts and Prayers” was an excellent point:
“It’s not an attack on anyone’s religious beliefs (I applaud anything that brings anyone comfort and peace in this world) it’s a middle finger to using them for an excuse for inaction.”
Also, that video was fantastic!

Much love & thank you!
Jay Gonzalez - the Swiss Army Knife of Musicians - Patterson Hood

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Re: New Letter From Patterson 1/18/2020

Post by wordmeester »

Thank you Patterson for treating your fans with such respect; to be as giving as you are and for being the conduit for the angst and anger and frustration so many of us feel in a country gone f-in mad. From what I've seen of my fellow HeAthens over these 15 years since I got hooked by Decoration Day, I think it's safe to say we've will always have the DBTs backs and stand proud with you guys no matter where the Truckers' go. In my mind, you guys can do NO WRONG because whatever you do will be HONEST and REAL.

I am beyond excited for Homecoming2020... I hope the 40W roof is bolted on tightly.

Peace.

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Re: New Letter From Patterson 1/18/2020

Post by RolanK »

What John said!
Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa

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Re: New Letter From Patterson 1/18/2020

Post by Erdlivz »

Respect. Thank you for sharing.

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Re: New Letter From Patterson 1/18/2020

Post by Beaverdam »

I’m just read Patterson’s post while watching my kids play in the pool on a family trip to Hot Springs, Arkansas. I so appreciate Patterson taking the time to address us, and his comments make me excited for the new album.

Patterson’s comments regarding guns were particularly poignant for me this morning. Unbeknownst to my wife and me Hot Springs was hosting a gun show this weekend. I’ve walked the streets with my kids past people with a plethora of guns. Prior to my wife and I realizing the town was hosting a gun show, we walked past some “kids” carrying what appeared to be some sort of assault rifle. We all walked a little faster not knowing what was happening. I grew up with guns, and I fully support qualified individuals being equipped to hunt, but the need for assault rifles is beyond me.

My Sunday sermon...y’all take care!

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Re: New Letter From Patterson 1/18/2020

Post by SXDX »

I've been surprised by the reaction to the new record. Is it as good as Decoration Day? No, but it's still solid. I think a lot of these songs will grow on people as time passes.

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Re: New Letter From Patterson 1/18/2020

Post by beantownbubba »

Thank you Patterson.

I particularly appreciate your observations on the personal and the political but the entire post is terrific.

Please keep on keeping on doing what you do. I'm thrilled to come along on the ride.

Thank you Patterson.
Shut up and vote.

Zip City
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Re: New Letter From Patterson 1/18/2020

Post by Zip City »

I’m a little disappointed that Patterson feels like he needs to defend himself to us (or anyone).
And I knew when I woke up Rock N Roll would be here forever

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Re: New Letter From Patterson 1/18/2020

Post by glennrwordman »

Well, unsurprisingly, this is thoughtful, empathetic, and more than any fan base could justifiably expect from an artist.

Thank you, Patterson, for your generosity of time and spirit. All of this add immeasurably to the appreciation of the music.
Talkin tough's easy when it's other people's evil/& you're judging what they do or don't believe

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Re: New Letter From Patterson 1/18/2020

Post by scotto »

Zip City wrote:I’m a little disappointed that Patterson feels like he needs to defend himself to us (or anyone).
I took it as more of a clarification. Not unsurprising, given the current state of social media discourse.
A great read. Looking forward to finally seeing y'all in Athens.

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Re: New Letter From Patterson 1/18/2020

Post by Clams »

Always nice to read what's going on behind the scenes in trucker world. And nice to see PH's (rightful) recognition of this forum as the place where meaningful discussion of the band and its music takes place - especially given the shit show that the FB group has become lately. (As an example, last night someone slammed the band for closing one of the Colorado shows with Grand Canyon - on the anniversary of Craig Lieske's death!).
I had my ticket, but 2020 got canceled

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Re: New Letter From Patterson 1/18/2020

Post by beantownbubba »

Zip City wrote:I’m a little disappointed that Patterson feels like he needs to defend himself to us (or anyone).
I'm more amazed, I think. I'm not surprised because it's not the first time, but I'm amazed that Patterson takes the time and trouble to go that extra mile or three whether it's to defend, explain, (as Scotto says) clarify or just to give us insight beyond the records. It's a part of what makes the whole DBT thing special for sure.
glennrwordman wrote:this is thoughtful, empathetic, and more than any fan base could justifiably expect from an artist.
Yes.
Shut up and vote.

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Re: New Letter From Patterson 1/18/2020

Post by beantownbubba »

Clams wrote:Always nice to read what's going on behind the scenes in trucker world. And nice to see PH's (rightful) recognition of this forum as the place where meaningful discussion of the band and its music takes place - especially given the shit show that the FB group has become lately. (As an example, last night someone slammed the band for closing one of the Colorado shows with Grand Canyon - on the anniversary of Craig Lieske's death!).
Agreed but at least the guy apologized. A bare minimal standard, but something anyway.
Shut up and vote.

coornelius
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Re: New Letter From Patterson 1/18/2020

Post by coornelius »

Yikes. That means only one of the other nine songs was a Cooley song.

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Re: New Letter From Patterson 1/18/2020

Post by John A Arkansawyer »

Beaverdam wrote:I’m just read Patterson’s post while watching my kids play in the pool on a family trip to Hot Springs, Arkansas.
If you're at the Country Inn, you might just see me in the hot tub. I'm driving down to see the kid and the kid's mom in an hour or so, but am going to stay in town tonight. If you'd like some local tips, let me know and I will provide.
Zip City wrote:I’m a little disappointed that Patterson feels like he needs to defend himself to us (or anyone).
I'd call this an explanation and not a defense. A defense would bother me, too; an explanation is always welcome.
Clams wrote:Always nice to read what's going on behind the scenes in trucker world. And nice to see PH's (rightful) recognition of this forum as the place where meaningful discussion of the band and its music takes place - especially given the shit show that the FB group has become lately. (As an example, last night someone slammed the band for closing one of the Colorado shows with Grand Canyon - on the anniversary of Craig Lieske's death!).
I don't think that guy quite understood what he'd done with his mistimed opinion.
beantownbubba wrote:Agreed but at least the guy apologized. A bare minimal standard, but something anyway.
It was minimal, but it did seem sincere.
The sooner we put those assholes in the grave&piss on the dirt above it, the better off we'll be

boyyourself
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Re: New Letter From Patterson 1/18/2020

Post by boyyourself »

I wouldn’t consider it defense on Patterson’s part. It’s healthy discourse which is needed and much appreciated.

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Re: New Letter From Patterson 1/18/2020

Post by Jack Flash »

Thanks, Patterson. Just want to briefly stick my own head in and say that this...
Tequila Cowboy wrote:It’s our greatest sounding record by a long shot.
...is definitely true. People can complain about the songs if they want, I guess, but I think this is DBT's first true piece of sonic art. Like, Rosemary With a Bible and a Gun never particularly grabbed me live but I was blown away listening to the studio version for the first time by everything going on in the mix.

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Rocky
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Re: New Letter From Patterson 1/18/2020

Post by Rocky »

Thanks for your time Patterson.

Looking forward to hearing The Unraveling in a week and a half!
By the time you drop them I'll be gone
And you'll be right where they fall the rest of your life

305 Engine
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Re: New Letter From Patterson 1/18/2020

Post by 305 Engine »

Looking forward to the book.

The album too, obviously. But if there's one guy who really does have a great book in him, it's Mr Hood.

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Re: New Letter From Patterson 1/18/2020

Post by Cole Younger »

Well Patterson absolutely doesn’t owe anybody an explanation about their songs. But I personally really appreciate him taking the time and explaining where his mind was on these and more importantly providing some insight and some nuance as to what he did and didn’t mean on some of this. To me this comes off a whole lot better than what was said around the release of American Band which, intentional or not, came across as, “this is what we think and eat shit and don’t come to our shows if you don’t agree.” His taking time to explain what he didn’t mean by Thoughts and Prayers is something I really appreciate as I think it’s a fine song but was rubbed the wrong way by it until now because I did take it in a way he doesn’t mean it. Long way around the barn of saying, I didn’t expect this and sure dont expect him to do it every time or even one more time but I sure appreciate it. Thanks Patterson and right on. You’re a good dude.
A single shot rifle and a one eyed dog.

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Re: New Letter From Patterson 1/18/2020

Post by tinnitus photography »

what a great essay. can't wait to see the ROCK SHOW next month.
[quote="linkous"]There are three genres of music. Good music, bad music, and music made by The Fall.[/quote]

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