Sunday, February 21, 2010

Contenders Series #3: Drive-By Truckers - "Working This Job"

Download:  Drive-By Truckers - Working This Job

As promised, post #2 about the Drive-By Truckers.

Originally released with the title "This Fucking Job," the band has now dropped the cursing from the title.  I guess they're shooting for radio play with this one, and they might get it.  The Tom Petty chords and Eagles-ish harmonies are all classic-classic rock, and leave me with that constant uncomfortable realization that the music I love and the music I hate are not that far apart, and oftentimes I can't exactly explain where that cut line is.

I like this song okay, and I like "Birthday Boy," too, but I hope they don't wind up being the best songs on next month's The Big To Do.  If you'll allow me to get all uppity and pretentious for a second, these songs don't really transcend, and so many DBT songs do.

I've been having sporadic Truckers conversations lately, and my position has always been that the band has never made a great start-to-finish album, though they've also never put out a record with less than four great songs on it.  People at work disagree to varying levels.  Meg (whose vote seems important since she's actually from Alabama) argues for Decoration Day.  Scott (who probably knows more about the alt-country genre as anyone I've ever met) went with The Dirty South (or, at least, it was the only DBT record on his Best of the Decade list).  If pressed, I'd probably go with Decoration Day, too, but their most recent disc, Brighter than Creation's Dark, has really grown on me ("The Opening Act" is my current Truckers obsession song, and that line from "Perfect Timing" - "I used to hate the fool in me, but only in the morning, now I tolerate him all day long" - is brilliant).

The problem with any Drive-By Truckers album, as I see it, is that I get uncomfortable WAY before the band does.  Their best songs and their worst songs both come packed with darkness, and for me there's just a point where it stops being fun.  I know there's a shocking, honest truth to songs about incest and murdered judges buried in sink holes and loved ones dying because they couldn't pay medical expenses ... but maybe I just can't handle it.  And so there will always be a couple songs per album that I skip, but I understand that they're necessary.  They have to take those chances, because that's where their greatness comes from.

In that spirit, here are my 20 favorite Drive-By Truckers songs (I'm not going to abuse my upload privileges by linking to all of them (please no more takedown notices), but if anyone emails me, I could probably hook you up with a mix CD):

(1) One of These Days (Pizza Deliverance)
(2) Marry Me (Decoration Day)
(3) Let There Be Rock (Southern Rock Opera)
(4) Carl Perkins' Cadillac (The Dirty South)
(5) The Day John Henry Died (The Dirty South)
(6) Ronnie and Neil (Southern Rock Opera)
(7) Lookout Mountain (The Dirty South)
(8) Self-Destructive Zones (Brighter than Creation's Dark)
(9) Outfit (Decoration Day)
(10) A Ghost to Most (Brighter than Creation's Dark)
(11) When the Pin Hits the Shell (Decoration Day)
(12) Heathens (Decoration Day)
(13) 72 (This Highway's Mean) (Southern Rock Opera)
(14) George Jones Talkin' Cell Phone Blues (The Fine Print)
(15) The Righteous Path (Brighter than Creation's Dark)
(16) Road Cases (Southern Rock Opera)
(17) The Company I Keep (A Blessing and a Curse)
(18) The Opening Act (Brighter than Creation's Dark)
(19) Goddamn Lonely Love (The Dirty South)
(20) Women Without Whiskey (Southern Rock Opera)

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