BONUS TRACKS: The Drive-by Truckers Take a Do-Over on ‘The Dirty South’
Drive-by Truckers in the "Dirty South" era, circa 2004. From left, Brad Morgan, Mike Cooley, Patterson Hood, Jason Isbell, and Shonna Tucker (photo by
Sometimes, the album a band has in mind and the album a label wants to put out aren’t exactly the same thing. Compromises are made, and the label usually wins in the end, being that it holds the purse strings. After that, everyone mostly moves along, but, as in all things, the Drive-by Truckers are different. Nineteen years after their landmark album The Dirty South came out, the Truckers decided they wanted to release it the way they’d really wanted to in 2004. The Complete Dirty South, coming June 16, expands the original from 14 to 17 songs, including three tracks that weren’t on the original album and four remixed songs, with two featuring new vocal takes. Notably, the expanded version of the album is coming out on the same label it did before: New West Records.
“A lot has happened in the nearly 20 years since The Dirty South was released,” Drive-by Truckers’ Patterson Hood explains in a press release announcing the expanded version. “… Shortly after we left (New West), they restructured the label and the source of our turmoil moved on to other things. We are on excellent terms with the powers that be now and we were happy when they reached out to us about the idea of reissuing The Dirty South, enabling us to put out the album the way we had originally intended it to be.”
The Complete Dirty South comes with a 32-page booklet with original and new liner notes and photos as well as track-by-track descriptions by Hood, Mike Cooley, and then-Trucker Jason Isbell.
“Puttin’ People on the Moon” is one of the songs that got a new vocal track, righting a take Hood admits has bothered him all these years. “We recorded it in Muscle Shoals (in one take) in January 2004, but by the time the record came out, I had already begun to regret the vocal take, which attempted some things I hadn’t yet really learned how to do at that time,” he says. “… When we were given the opportunity to do a ‘Directors Cut’ version of what many consider to be our masterpiece, I wanted to take another stab at that vocal and nailed what I believe to be a definitive version of it in one take. One that truly captures the inherent anger and despair of the song as written and played by the band. The scream at the end might be the most primal recording of my voice anywhere in our catalog and I’m very proud to have this version out there after all these years.”
See what you think in the updated version below, and I’m sure you won’t miss how the lyrics are still sharply relevant, 19 years later:
Hey, remember livestreamed concerts? In summer 2021, they were still mostly the norm, though in-person concerts, mostly outdoors, were slowly starting to crawl back onto our calendars. One of the blockbusters in the online format around that time was Bob Dylan’s Shadow Kingdom, a mysterious livestream with a $25 ticket price that fans snapped up without knowing a bunch about what they were going to see. Turns out, they saw a black-and-white film that was part performance, part atmosphere featuring Dylan singing some of his earliest material. (Read our review of the livestream here.) This week Dylan’s camp announced the release of Shadow Kingdom’s songs on vinyl, CD, and streaming on June 2. The film itself will be available for download or rental on June 6. As for Dylan himself, he’s back on the road, with tour dates in Japan and Europe over the next few months.
Rhiannon Giddens has created powerful music in multiple genres, written music for a ballet and an opera, penned a children’s book, and won an armful of awards as well as the MacArthur Award/“Genius Grant,” and now she’s taking on a new challenge: TV show host. On the new PBS series My Music with Rhiannon Giddens, she will feature conversations and performances with “some of the artists who are inspiring me the most these days,” she explains in a trailer for the show. Among those artists are Allison Russell, Rissi Palmer, Joy Clark, Adia Victoria, and Lumbee/Tuscarora singer-songwriter Charly Lowry. The series, which has seven episodes, will become available for streaming at PBS.org starting May 1, and air on PBS stations nationwide starting May 4. Learn more about the show, including a Season 1 preview and an episode listing, at PBS.org.
I love hearing about what writers listen to as they work, especially since I can’t seem to figure out how to write and listen to music at the same time — it feels like a superpower I don’t have! The blog Largehearted Boy gets writers to share their playlists and how the songs affected their work in its Book Notes series, and the most recent installment is poet and noted roots music fan Maggie Smith on the songs that got her through the writing of her new memoir, You Could Make This Place Beautiful. Aaron Lee Tasjan is on her list, with “Little Movies” making her think about the narratives of all our lives, and songs by The Mountain Goats, The Jayhawks, Rhett Miller, and Justin Townes Earle also get a shout-out. Get the full list, with Smith’s typically powerful explanations, here. (If you’re not familiar with Smith’s poetry, you can’t go wrong diving in with “Good Bones.”)
WHAT WE’RE LISTENING TO
Here’s a sampling of the songs, albums, bands, and sounds No Depression staffers have been into this week:
Parker Millsap and Gillian Welch – “Wilderness Within You,” the title track from Millsap’s new album, coming in May
The National featuring Phoebe Bridgers – “Your Mind Is Not Your Friend”
Mark Erelli – “By Degrees”
Ketch Secor – “Louder Than Guns,” debuted during an interview on CNN’s The Assignment with Audie Cornish, available here
Smithsonian Folkways’ People’s Picks curated by Eric D. Johnson (Fruit Bats, Bonny Light Horseman), a playlist of songs and sound from the Folkways catalog
Nick Waterhouse – The Fooler
Rainbow Girls – “Compassion to the Nth Degree”
Pete Mancini – “Golden Hour,” from his new EP, The Commonwealth Sessions, Vol. 1, coming in May
Gabe Lee – “Even Jesus Got the Blues,” from his new album, Drink the River, coming in July
Tim Easton – “Sliver of Light”
Art Lown – “Deep Blue Sea”
Dom Flemons – “Traveling Wildfire”